Montgomery Co. school calendar at winter weather tipping point

Roads in Bethesda have a light coating of snow Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. (WTOP/Lisa Weiner)

WASHINGTON — Students in Montgomery County, Maryland, have had a couple days off this month due to winter weather, and that will not have any effect on the school calendar, according to the school system’s superintendent Jack Smith — but that could change.

Smith posted a letter online, explaining the situation.

“The 2017-2018 MCPS school calendar includes 182 instruction days, two above the minimum required in the state of Maryland. Therefore, our two weather closures can be absorbed without a modification to the calendar,” he wrote.

The calendar is at a tipping point, though.

Any additional snow days would force the school system to extend the year past June 12, which is scheduled to be the final day of classes.

“If there is one more emergency weather closure, then the school year will be extended by one day on June 13,” wrote Smith.

June 14 and 15 also could be used to tack on extra days.

After that, if additional instruction days are needed due to winter weather, schools would need to use March 26 and 27. Those are currently scheduled to be the first two days of spring break.

Under state law, Montgomery County is not able to extend the year into the middle of June.

Gov. Larry Hogan issued an executive order, telling schools to start their calendars after Labor Day and end by June 15.

“Developing the school calendar is an increasingly challenging process,” Smith said during a board of education meeting in November.

Citing Hogan’s order, Montgomery County education officials adopted a new academic calendar that gives students a shorter spring break next year.

The 2018-2019 school year cuts four days from the break, shortening it from 10 days to six.

Hogan’s office has repeatedly dismissed the county’s complaints about the executive order, saying it is disingenuous to threaten spring break.

“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,” said a Hogan spokeswoman.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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