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In unexpected turn, Baltimore City schools will be closed Presidents' Day; school year extended

Baltimore schools will be closed Presidents’ Day, the school board announced Tuesday, giving frustrated families and teachers notice less than a week before the holiday.

Presidents’ Day — Monday — was supposed to be the first “inclement weather make-up day,” based on the academic calendar approved by the board last year. But district officials asked board members to throw out that plan, preserve the long weekend and instead extend the school year past June 15.

The school board voted Tuesday to revamp its plan for making up snow days. Under the previous plan, the first snow day was to be made up on Presidents’ Day. The next two snow days were to be made up by converting the first two days of spring break to regular school days.

Now, the snow day taken Jan. 14 will be made up June 17. The snow days taken Monday and Tuesday will be made up June 18 and 19.

If the district closes all schools for any more days, the school year could extend through June 21. If those days are maxed out, the district can start cutting into spring break.

School systems across Maryland were forced to compress their academic calendars after Gov. Larry Hogan mandated in 2016 that all public schools start classes after Labor Day and end by June 15. Officials in some districts, like Baltimore, have complained they have little flexibility to adjust for snow days or other emergencies.

Hogan and other supporters of the late start date argue the longer summer break gives families more time together and is a boon for the state’s tourism industry, especially in Ocean City. Those on the other side of the debate say it creates problems for families who rely on and struggle to pay for additional child care during the summer. It’s also left districts struggling to squeeze in religious holidays, spring break and the appropriate number of professional development days for teachers.

Also Tuesday, the Maryland Senate approved a bill that seeks to overturn Hogan’s executive order. The bill, which passed 31-13, calls for returning control over school calendars to local school boards.

Hogan pledged last week to write his own bill that would allow local school boards to start classes after Labor Day, but only if they put the decision on the ballot for a public vote.

trichman@baltsun.com

twitter.com/TaliRichman

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