- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The last day of classes will stand at June 12 for St. Mary's schools, and spring break will remain whole, thanks to a state waiver freeing students from having to make up some of the county's 12 snow days this year.
Superintendent Michael Martirano cited Wednesday the constant challenges winter weather brought. Schools were closed 12 days, opening was delayed seven other days and after-school activities were canceled four days.
“We've got to make some adjustments with our current calendar to keep us moving forward,” the superintendent said at a school board meeting.
Schools in Maryland are mandated by law to offer 180 days of instruction to students. However, on Tuesday, the state school board delegated authority to the state superintendent to approve waiver requests for up to five days to individual county school systems, leaving students with just 175 days of classes.
Martirano requested a five-day waiver two weeks ago. On Wednesday afternoon he was notified by the state superintendent that St. Mary's was the first school system to be granted a waiver.
Classes were held on Presidents Day last month to make up one of the missed days, and there were five snow days already built into the end of the school calendar. Those six days, plus the five waived by the state, left just one day to be made up, Martirano said.
Friday, May 2, which was scheduled as a professional day for teachers, will now be a regular school day, as approved by the school board Wednesday.
Martirano said the last day for teachers is “still to be determined,” and that he is in talks with union representatives. In St. Mary's, teachers are contracted to work those 180 school days, plus an additional 10 days without students for professional development or to prepare classrooms. Teachers in St. Mary's could end up working six fewer days than their contracts state, based on the waiver days plus the loss of a professional day.
Last month the school board approved using Easter Monday on April 21, May 2 and June 13 as possible makeup days if needed. This week the school board and superintendent backed away from that plan, instead using only May 2, along with the waiver for five days.
Martirano cited calls from the community to keep spring break intact, including the following Monday, which he said people wanted as a school holiday for “religious reasons.” Easter Monday is not officially a religious holiday, but it is a state holiday, Martirano said later.
“The week of spring break remains intact,” Martirano said. School will be closed April 14 through April 21.
The Chesapeake Public Charter School, which operates on a different calendar, missed 11 days due to inclement weather. Students from that school will also have to make up a day on May 2, and the last day for students at the charter school will be June 13, as originally planned, Martirano said.
School board members approved the changes to the calendar and commended the superintendent.
Martirano said he hoped Wednesday's adjustments to the calendar would be the last for this school year. While snow in April is rare, it would not be unprecedented.
“I wore [a] pink tie on purpose, to push away winter,” Martirano said.
“The forsythias are blooming, the birds are singing, so that means spring has to be here, hopefully,” Sal Raspa, board chair, said.