BOE approves calendar revisions, reducing instructional and professional days


Graphic by Selina Ding.

By Camille Caldera

The Board of Education (BOE) revised the 2017-2018 school year calendar Feb. 27 to shorten the professional days after first and third quarter from full days off to half days and reduce the total number of instructional days from 184 to 182.

The BOE approved a previous version of the calendar Dec. 13, but new recommendations from the Maryland State Department of Education forced the Board to reevaluate, said Essie McGuire, the Executive Director of the Office of the Chief Operating Officer.

The Department of Education’s recommendations suggested all three possible emergency closure make-up days be scheduled prior to June 15 per Governor Larry Hogan’s Aug. 31 executive order. To accommodate this, the calendar’s end date has been moved from June 14 to June 12. In the event of more than three emergency closures, up to two days of spring break will be cut.

“There were very few options to address the required number of days in the limited timeframe required by the governor,” McGuire said.

We pride ourselves on being one of the better school districts, but it’s taking that away from us.

— French teacher Michele Beach

The change will have no impact the number of paid work days for teachers due to the addition of three professional days prior to the start of school, adding to the existing week of professional days for a total of eight days. In the previous version of the calendar, the first teacher work day was Aug. 28. In the updated version, it is Aug. 23.

These changes are the latest in a series of calendar shifts in the months since Governor Hogan’s executive order.

“We are certainly expecting that this is the last revision,” McGuire said.

Both teachers and students at Whitman expressed concern about teachers’ ability to complete their grading and preparation for the next quarter without full professional days.

“From a teacher’s point of view, I feel sorry for the teachers that are new and trying to prepare for the second quarter,” French teacher Michele Beach said. “They only have half a day, and they’re also trying to do grades.”

Students felt the two day reduction in instructional time was inconsequential, but some teachers viewed it as a step backwards.

“We pride ourselves on being one of the better school districts, but it’s taking that away from us,” Beach said. “Two days isn’t the end of the world, but we’re reducing instead of improving.”