ANNAPOLIS - Maryland students got a little hurricane
Tuesday from state school officials: one fewer day in the school
year to make up.
The Maryland State Board of Education Tuesday granted all 24
school districts a one-day waiver of the 180-day school year
requirement on the recommendation of State Superintendent of
Schools Nancy Grasmick.
"I recognized the extraordinary efforts that systems make in
trying to stay open," Grasmick said in a statement. "These are
circumstances beyond our control."
The decision covers Friday, when all state school systems shut
down for the variety of problems caused by Hurricane Isabel,
which rolled through the area Thursday and Friday.
Maryland schools are required to be in session for a minimum of
180 days and 1,080 hours per school year at the elementary and
middle-school levels, and 1,170 hours at the high school level.
School systems pad their calendars for weather-related closings
and vacations, but it's unusual for schools to be using up days
already, said Bill Reinhard, spokesman for Maryland State
Department of Education.
Grasmick "thought they should be forgiven for the one day,"
School districts determine the extra number of days they should
add to their calendars by historic performance and weather
predictions. Last winter's harsh conditions saw school systems
quickly using up their extra days.
"We had unusually high number of schools out because of
weather," Reinhard said about last year's days. "And the year
before it was exceedingly light."
In Charles County, Isabel closed schools for three days while
flooding receded and downed power lines and impassable roads were
repaired. It has four inclement weather days built into its
Charles County schools spokeswoman Katie O'Malley-Simpson said
the waiver, "certainly will help" manage the calendar.
School systems handled the hurricane emergency differently,
Reinhard said. Most school systems, he said, were closed
Thursday, but not Allegany and Garrett counties. Others, like
Carroll, Cecil, Frederick and Washington counties, opened Monday,
but let out early and therefore, will not have to make the day
The quick action on the waiver took some by surprise.
"Usually we don't hear that until February or March," said
Marlene Feldman, spokeswoman for Dorchester County schools. "So
it's kind of weird to hear that."
Systems that were closed other days besides Friday because of
weather-related difficulties may request additional days from the
State Board closer to the end of the year. Such cases are
considered on a case-by-case basis.
"Parents and teachers are affected the most," Reinhard said. "No
one wants to see students in class July 4."