- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Last week brought 4 to 5 inches of snow to St. Mary’s, which led to a week off from school for students. More snow was predicted to fall last night in St. Mary’s County.
That could wreck the school calendar later in the year.
School Superintendent Michael Martirano said Monday if schools were closed any more days this winter, he would have to either add on school days in June or possibly ask the Maryland State Department of Education for a waiver so that the additional snow days would not have to be made up.
Schools have been closed six days for inclement weather so far this school year — last week’s four snow days and two previous days on Dec. 10 and Jan. 3.
The last day for St. Mary’s public school students still stands at Thursday, June 12, thanks to five days built into the end of the school calendar as makeup days and an additional professional day on May 2, which will now be converted to a makeup day.
“Right now we’ve built six days into the calendar, and right now we’ve used six days, so there’s no need for any adjustments,” Martirano said Monday. “However, it is January and still early in the winter.”
Maryland public schools by law must have at least 180 days of school for students each year.
The superintendent said he did receive comments and calls from the parents lamenting that schools were closed so long last week, especially on Friday — three days after the storm that dumped snow throughout the county.
“Last week was just very unusual for us,” Martirano said.
He said last Wednesday morning, after the snow had stopped, ice quickly developed on the snow-covered roads. Contractors worked throughout the county that day to clear state and county roads.
Martirano said the school system uses contractors for snow removal, but most of them also have obligations with the State Highway Administration and county government to clear roads. Crews began working in earnest on school parking lots Thursday, he said.
Martirano said by Friday morning all schools were prepared to receive students, but the superintendent decided it was still unsafe on back roads for buses to travel after another check on road conditions Thursday evening.
Temperatures stayed well below freezing from the time the snowstorm started Tuesday afternoon through the rest of the week, which made ice packed on secondary roads hard to clear.
“I’m always going to err on the side of caution,” Martirano said.
County road crews plowed through last Tuesday’s storm and again the next day to clear county roads. However, as snow and ice pack down on asphalt, plowing does not always clear the roadways, Richard Tarr, highway manager for St. Mary’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation, said last week.
And, he said, salt becomes less effective in melting the snow and ice when temperatures fall below 20 degrees. Many of the secondary roads throughout the county still had a layer of ice and snow on Friday.
SHA crews worked to clear about 600 miles of roads in St. Mary’s using some 80 pieces of equipment, according to the local program manager.
Students received word Sunday that school would open on time Monday morning — for the first time in more than a week.
Schools have also had three delayed openings this winter because of ice, freezing rain or the potential of severe weather. Those hours of missed school will not be made up, Martirano said.
Report cards, which were to go home with students on Jan. 29, are now scheduled to be sent on Monday, Feb. 3, because of the missed week of school. Some schools experienced minor problems with water pipes or heating systems last week, Martirano said, but all have been resolved.
The St. Mary’s school board was scheduled to hear a presentation on next year’s school calendar at its meeting Tuesday evening. According to the proposal, if approved the first day of school for students will be Wednesday, Aug. 20.