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MCPS releases first draft of 2018-19 calendar

MCPS has recently released the first draft of the calendar for the 2018-2019 school year. The Policy Management Committee will review this draft prior to it being presented to the full Board for adoption. It is important and relevant to understand the current state of the proposed calendar and how it stands to impact MCPS for the 2018-2019 school year.

The overall time frame of the school year calendar established by Governor Larry Hogan’s Executive Order of August 31, 2016, remains in place for the 2018-2019 school year. The general parameters of the calendar are as follows:

  • First day of school : Tuesday, September 4, 2018
  • Last permissible day of instruction: Friday, June 14, 2019
  • Minimum number of days of instruction: 180

Closings Required by State Law:

  • Tuesday, November 6, 2018: Election Day
  • Thursday, November 22 and Friday, November 23, 2018: Thanksgiving and the day after this national holiday
  • Monday, December 24, 2018 – Tuesday, January 1, 2019: Winter Break
  • Monday, January 21, 2019: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • Monday, February 18, 2019: Presidents’ Day
  • Friday, April 19, 2019: the Friday before Easter
  • Monday, April 22, 2019: the Monday after Easter
  • Monday, May 27, 2019: Memorial Day

As for emergency closings, the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) requires that school systems account for two types of snow make-up days by:

  1. make adjustments to cover up instruction within the school year calendar; and
  2. show that the school year has been extended by three days.

This means that the 180th day of scheduled instruction must be on or before June 11, 2019, and that other days within the year must be identified as possible make-up instructional days. Once the calendar accounts for the State required elements, a total of six days remain that can be utilized for other, non-required educational or operational priorities, such as Spring Break, or any instructional days left that overlap the required 180.

How to allocate these days is among MCPS’s multiple calendar priorities, and remains a challenge in creating the MCPS calendar every year. The 5-2 vote in favor of asking Governor Larry Hogan to relax an executive order that schools begin classes after Labor Day and end by June 15 hints at an internal conflict.

This conflict arises from Hogan’s tough stance on shortening spring break or holding classes on Jewish holidays. The school board is urging him to push back the statewide end of school date to June 22, in order to continue the usual tradition of honoring Jewish holidays and Spring Break.

Even so, the possibility of having school on certain Jewish holidays and the loss of days for Spring Break seems very probable. Jeanette Dixon, a member of the MCPS Board of Education, wrote: “His executive order is what it is and we need to move on […] One of the ways to deal with having fewer days is to focus on what we can do during the summer to recover some instructional time.”

This response serves as a message to her peers to look at the silver linings in things that may seem discouraging. There are still many decisions to be made, and this new plan may have some benefits not seen in former calendar plans.

An important difference between the current calendar design and the newly released draft is the closing of school around Easter on the Friday before and Monday after. Many students in MCPS seem to be happy with the continuation of school after labor day, as well as the lawful addition of closings around Easter time in 2019.

To provide feedback on how best to structure the calendar, MCPS has brought together a workgroup of school system staff, including teachers, supporting services staff, and administrators. They are also meeting with external stakeholders, such as the MCCPTA, the NAACP, and the Montgomery County Faith Community Advisory Council, and have asked for feedback from each of MCPS’s employee associations—MCEA, SEIU, and MCAAP. In addition, they will be doing focus groups across the County to hear different perspectives on how best to design the calendar.

Chief Operating Officer Andrew Zuckerman looks forward to engaging with you through this process. If you have ideas, questions, or comments, please do not hesitate to email him at Chief_Operating_Officer@mcpsmd.org. Also, Mr. Andrew Zuckerman will be sending future updates on the calendar development process to keep Montgomery County residents informed on the progress of the Calendar development.

Article by MoCo Student staff writer Matthew Minton of Quince Orchard High School

About The MoCo Student

In 2012, Student Member of the Board of Education John Mannes created a countywide press network to help build a conduit to share fresh and relevant information written by youth to the wider Montgomery County student body.

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