Teachers in Charles County are under a contract to be at school for 189 days a year. The law also states that students must attend school 180 days and 1080 hours a year. In the student/school calendar it states that 4 snow days were built in, but if more than 4 were used then Feb.17th would be used first, after that April 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th. Negotiating the school calendar is not an option, due to being illegal.
When it comes to snow days, officials have discussed turning the early dismissal days and report card prep days into regular full days, but when discussed by the EACC Board of Directors, this proposal was declined. The teacher contract protects report card planning periods therefore they cannot be taken away from them. The Board of Education has stated that the calendar is put out in advance and they make excessive snow days outlined, therefore, booked vacations for spring break are not a concern to them. If a teacher already had something planned, they must take a personal leave with approval and without pay.
So far this school year, Charles County Public Schools have missed ten days due to inclement weather. Because of our strict contract, we must make all of the time up. Five snow days have already been dealt with, but four more days are left in order to meet the school year requirement.
As of now, Spring Break will be a long weekend rather than a full week. On March 10th Superintendent Dr. Hill sent a request to the state superintendent of schools requesting a four day waiver to the states requirement. While the waiver is pending, schools are open on April 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th. If the state grants the waiver, then spring break will continue to go on normally.
Waiver or not, Dr. Hill is changing four 2-hour dismissal days to full days. The days being converted are March 19th, April 25th, May 7th and May 21st. Days to remain early dismissal days are, April 1st, June 13th, 16th, 17th and 18th. April 1st needs to stay a half day because report cards need to be prepared, and the last four days in June are the last days of the school year.
On March 11th , the Board of Education is met to discuss these impending issues. Elizabeth Brown, a member of the EACC, was at this meeting and gave us some insight. When regarding having spring break back, Ms. Brown said “This is the school calendar but a lot of people think they are just supposed to automatically get Spring Break. School systems just can’t do what they want to do.” It was said that Dr. Hill requested for this waiver to show that Charles County is really trying to make up these missed days. She is using the half days to try to show that she is trying to increase instruction time for students.
When it came to the actual days being made up, Ms. Brown said, “If we have more snow, that’s when we would probably have to extend the end of school so don’t do any snow dances yet!” She also let us know that, “I personally would like to see students and teachers get Spring Break because so many make plans ahead even, though it’s not guaranteed. Whatever decision is made will not make everyone happy. I hope the waiver will be granted, but there are so many new additions and changes to education that all I can do is just stay optimistic.”