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School calendar shows makeup days

July 30, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

In the heat of summer, Washington County Public Schools officials have been trying to find a way to keep snow days from affecting the calendar for the upcoming school year.

School officials scrambled last winter to make up for 12 class days missed because of bad weather.

Maryland school systems are required to have 180 days of instruction each school year.

The Washington County Board of Education decided to make up the time by extending school days by 30 minutes instead of extending the school year by 14 days.

But the Maryland Department of Education required the School Board to look, not just at hours of instruction, but at days of instruction. The School Board then extended the school year until June 11, five days past June 6, the targeted last day of school.

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Patricia Abernethy, chair of the School Board's calendar committee, doesn't want that to happen again.

Abernethy, who is the deputy superintendent of instruction for the school system, said a calendar drawn up for the coming year will list eight days that would be makeup days.

She said some parents complained last year that their vacations were scheduled during the makeup days.

Abernethy said that she hopes numbering on the calendar the days that will be used for makeup days will help parents who wish to schedule vacations.

The school year tentatively will end June 3, but the calendar committee noted that five weekdays from June 4 to 10 will be the first makeup days.

Presidents Day, a day last year on which students already were scheduled off during the most crippling storm of the season, will be used as a sixth makeup day, if necessary.

March 29, a day marked as a professional day, would be the next day to be used, followed by April 8, a day marked as part of spring break.

If Mother Nature forces the school system to take off more than eight days for bad weather, days will be added at the end of the school year, Abernethy said.

The calendar committee also gave students a break in January by designating two professional days and one day to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

Since 2004 is a leap year, the committee was able to provide an extra day off, Abernethy said.

She said the committee was composed of school officials, parents and students.

School calendars will be distributed to students during the first week of school, said Carol Mowen, the school system's public information officer.

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