Board of Ed. Changes School Calendar


Infographic by Thomas Atkinson and Eugenia Cardinale

Next year’s school calendar will accommodate a professional day on Sept. 12, the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha. Teachers will lose a Pre-service day, and students and staff will attend school on Oct. 21, previously a no school day.

By Thomas Atkinson, Online Features Editor

The Board of Education decided Dec. 14 to revise the school calendar for the 2016-17 school year to accommodate the addition of a professional Sept. 12, 2016. n

School will start Aug. 29, 2016 with teachers starting pre-service days on Aug. 23. The final day of school for students will be June 17, 2017.

The professional day coincides with the Muslim holiday Eid Al-Adha, and MCPS had to decide where to make up the day without disrupting the school schedule.

The new calendar will remove the professional day for teachers to attend the Maryland State Education Association convention Oct. 21, 2016.

While MCPS schools have been closed in the past on the day of the convention, next year they will be open and teachers who wish to attend the convention are allowed professional leave.

“To accommodate the professional day, the state teachers’ conference which is traditionally off is now a school day,” Student Member of the Board (SMOB) Eric Guerci said.

Teachers were asked for input on five options: start school on time with the added professional day costing $7 million; swap the professional day for one at the end of the third quarter with the added cost of $7 million; add the professional day and swap it for one of the marking period grading days; add the professional day and reduce the amount of pre-service days to four, or add the day with no additional cost and have pre-services start Aug. 18. The extra cost can be attributed to having to pay teachers on a previously scheduled day off.

According to a Dec. 9 email from Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) president Christopher Lloyd to union members, there was no consensus among the teachers for any of the options, and he worked continuously with Interim Superintendent Larry Bowers to find a solution.

MCPS had to follow guidelines to make sure the calendar followed State law.

According to Maryland State law, the yearly calendar for schools must contain at least 180 instructional days and be open for a total of 1,170 hours for student attendance.

One of the biggest factors for the county to consider is that when schools are closed, not all students will have access to full meals.

“The poverty in the so-called ‘lower county’ continues to deepen at an alarming rate,” Mainwaring said. “This means that half or more of our students will not receive breakfast or lunch on that day. This is a sad reality that must be factored into decisions to close schools to students.”