Harford County Public Schools will request a five-day waiver from the state’s 180-instructional day requirement, creating the potential for summer vacation to begin a day earlier than currently planned in June, a spokesperson for HCPS said Wednesday.
The Maryland State Board of Education voted Tuesday to let local school systems apply for a waiver of up to five days from the requirement, citing “a very unusual winter,” according to an announcement from the state education department. All public school systems in the state have exceeded their planned number of snow days, the department said.
Jillian Lader, HCPS manager of communications, said that the school system would request the maximum five days allowed. If granted in full, she said the waived days would cover four snow days that have not yet been made up elsewhere in the school calendar, and the fifth waived day would be used to make June 12, rather than June 13, the last day for students.
Harford County Public Schools lost 11 full school days to inclement weather this school year, eight of which are scheduled to be made up by holding classes on planned professional development and vacation days. Three other snow days, as well as one partial snow day which occurred on Feb. 3, still have to be made up.
Lader said that a full day waiver would be needed for Feb. 3 because HCPS was only open for 2-½ hours that day, less than the 3 hours necessary for it to count as a school day.
Lader said HCPS has not made any plans for the possibility of the state granting a waiver for fewer than four days.
A copy of the waiver announcement from the state education department appears below:
STATE BOARD SETS PROCESS FOR SCHOOL CALENDAR WAIVERS
SYSTEMS CAN APPLY FOR WAIVERS OF UP TO FIVE DAYS FROM 180-DAY REQUIREMENT; STATE SUPERINTENDENT WILL MAKE DECISIONS
BALTIMORE (March 25, 2014) – The Maryland State Board of Education today voted to allow local school systems to apply for waivers of up to five days from the 180-instructional day requirement, and authorized the State Superintendent to make the waiver decisions on a case-by-case basis.
Board members also authorized up to two-day waivers from the 170-instructional days required by nonpublic schools in the State.
“Students need time in class to succeed, and we take Maryland’s instructional day requirement very seriously,” said Dr. Charlene Dukes, president of the Maryland State Board of Education. “At the same time, this has been a very unusual winter, and it requires us to take unusual steps.”
No timetable has been set for decisions on the waiver requests. Fifteen school systems have already requested waivers, and others may do so in the coming weeks.
Maryland residents – and Maryland school systems in particular – have been working through a very active winter, with all 24 school systems exceeding the number of inclement weather days that had been built into their calendars. Garrett County, in far western Maryland, has been closed 20 days, while Allegany County has been closed for 16 days.
The Maryland State Board had already allowed school systems to open classrooms on holidays to make up for some of the lost instructional time. Six systems opened on President’s Day and, thus far, five have made the request to open on the Monday after Easter.
The State Board’s action is not unprecedented. In calendar year 2009-2010, Maryland also trudged through a harsh winter. The State Board authorized the State Superintendent to waive up to five instructional days in that instance.