To meet Hogan’s mandate favoring Ocean City tourism, MCPS reduces spring break

To meet Hogan’s mandate favoring Ocean City tourism, MCPS calendar reduces spring break. (ABC7)

The Montgomery County Board of Education has approved the calendar that will dictate class schedules during the 2018-2019 school year.

•The calendar continues to be a major point of contention between MCPS and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. In 2016, Hogan issued an executive order, requiring all public schools start class after Labor Day, but dismiss no later than June 15. The political measure was used to lengthen the tourism season in and around Ocean City. However, certain school systems, including MCPS, have argued it’s greatly narrowed the scope of the school year.

•Tuesday’s BOE vote was 7-1; objector Rebecca Smondrowski explained the selected calendar was not her first, but rather second choice.

•MCPS' 2018-2019 calendar includes 182 instructional days for a student body of around 160,000 children. Maryland requires a minimum of 180 instructional days.

•The first day of class will be held on Tuesday, September 4. The final day of class will be held on Thursday, June 13.

•To the relief of many in the Jewish community, students and teachers will not have class on Monday, September 10 (Rosh Hashanah) and Wednesday, September 19 (Yom Kippur). Non-school-based staff must still report to work on both days.

•Spring Break will be significantly shorter. Traditionally it has been nine or 10 days long, but Spring Break 2019 will be a mere six days. Class will dismiss on Wednesday, April 17 and resume on Tuesday, April 23. According to a school system spokesman, this is the first time in at least a "generation" that MCPS has not had a weeklong Spring Break.

•Depending on the severity of winter weather, Spring Break could be shortened by two additional days and replaced by snow make-up days. Those days would be Wednesday, April 17 and Thursday, April 18.

•Following years of lobbying, class will not be held on June 5, 2019, which coincides with the Muslim holiday of Eid al Fitr. Teachers will use this as a professional day.

•The Montgomery County Education Association claims the 2018-2019 calendar "falls short of the time that is needed to plan lessons, communicate with parents, assess student progress, and share meaningful feedback." The MCEA used the opportunity to take aim at Governor Hogan, saying in part:

"Because Governor Hogan values the tourism industry over the education of our children, the Board of Education faced an impossible situation. They did the best they could to provide time for families and religious observances, while making sure there is also time for student instructional preparation throughout the year... Educators simply will not have enough time to provide the quality of instruction our children need and deserve, but the governor has demonstrated—whether by cutting the school year or by repeatedly cutting school funding—that his priorities lie elsewhere.”

•ABC7 contacted Governor Hogan's office for comment, but as of deadline had not received a formal response. Previously, Hogan suggested MCPS could easily cut some of the nine full or partial professional days it builds into the school calendar for teachers.

"It is unacceptable for students to miss this much classroom time and force parents to alter their schedules or find childcare during the school year, when this professional development could easily take place during the summer break," Hogan wrote in a letter to the MCPS BOE in March.

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