Montgomery Co. schools could get shorter spring break under new plan

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The superintendent of public schools in Montgomery County has proposed shortening spring break for the 2018-2019 school year, saying education officials have been forced to work around an executive order by Gov. Larry Hogan.

Superintendent Jack Smith’s proposed calendar would trim spring break from 10 days to six.

His plan also includes a pair of noninstructional grading and planning days and closures for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

“We have received over 1,600 comments from our online comment inbox, and we are continuing to go through those,” said Essie McGuire, with the office of the school system’s chief operating officer.

Nothing is set in stone yet, and board members are still considering various calendar options.

“There’s a lot of discussion about spring break,” McGuire said Tuesday during a board of education committee meeting. “This conversation is ongoing, so we will keep all the avenues for feedback open.”

Board members have expressed concerns about squeezing in traditional breaks and Jewish holidays with Hogan’s executive order, which requires schools statewide to start classes after Labor Day and end by June 15.

Earlier this month, the board voted to ask Hogan to allow the school system to extend its calendar.

Hogan’s office has brushed off such concerns.

“It is disingenuous for Montgomery County officials to threaten Jewish holidays and spring break,” said Hogan spokeswoman Amelia Chasse. “Most jurisdictions have managed to adopt a common-sense calendar that prioritizes what students and families want, and Montgomery County could easily do the same.”

As the discussion continues, some parents are just hoping to hear a concrete plan soon.

“I have trouble figuring out what I’m going to do with my kids, what I have to plan for at work and with child care,” said Jordan Magill, a father at Rosemary Hills Elementary School in Silver Spring. “It’s just another thing where politicians don’t care about what’s going on in the lives of ordinary people who actually have to deal with this stuff.”

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