Parents in Harford County Public Schools have grumbled for years about the days off scattered throughout the school calendar, and inclement weather makeup days that sometimes cut into spring break. Following a recommendation Monday by Interim Superintendent Barbara Canavan, the Harford County School Board is considering a 2014-15 school calendar that consolidates days off and reschedules inclement weather makeup days, creating a weeklong Thanksgiving break for students, and a predictable spring break for parents and staff.
Representing the HCPS Calendar Committee, Manager of Communications Teri Kranefeld explained the benefits of the proposal for Thanksgiving week, which adds Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to the typical break on Thursday and Friday: “It removes some of those scattered days within the calendar to allow for more full weeks of school.”
Board member and former Baltimore County Public Schools teacher Bob Frisch concurred: “Being in the classroom, believe me, it’s extremely difficult to get any momentum and any consistency in instruction when you have these repeated breaks in schedule…”
While students would have no school during Thanksgiving week in the proposed calendar, teachers would have staff development days Monday through Wednesday, with Thursday and Friday off.
Kranefeld said in a follow-up email to The Dagger that scheduling two of the staff development days in November instead of the usual January would ultimately be more effective for staff, because the January days were often lost to inclement weather and rescheduled to year end.
In addition to the above changes, Kranefeld said that parents on the Calendar Committee suggested adding an extra eight days at the end of the required 180 days of school, providing wiggle room when days are lost to inclement weather. If any or all of the extra days turn out to be unnecessary, they can be dropped from the calendar as the end of the school year approaches. The change would replace the longstanding practice of shortening spring break when necessary to make up for lost days.
Kranefeld explained via email Tuesday:
“The thought behind this new recommendation was to provide a clearer, more concrete expectation for parents with regard to spring break and the end of the year. With this proposal, parents and staff can be assured that spring break will not be changed, regardless of weather, and that the last day of school will be Friday, June 19th, minus any unused snow days.”
The proposed 2014-15 calendar appears below and is posted on the school system’s Web site for public comment. A Board vote on the calendar is planned for December 16th.
Please note: Testing days for students, indicated in yellow, could change due to the implementation of PARCC tests in the 2014-15 school year. Kranefeld said that the state testing window has not yet been finalized and further guidance is pending from the Maryland State Department of Education.
The small red rectangles signify the end of each marking period.