The Black & White

Spring break, professional days limited in 2018-19 calendar

Graphic+by+Meimei+Greenstein.
Back to Article
Back to Article

Spring break, professional days limited in 2018-19 calendar

Graphic by Meimei Greenstein.

Graphic by Meimei Greenstein.

Greenstein, June M (Student)

Graphic by Meimei Greenstein.

Greenstein, June M (Student)

Greenstein, June M (Student)

Graphic by Meimei Greenstein.

By Jessie Buxbaum

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The 2018-19 school calendar—approved by MCPS Policy Management Committee members and adopted by the Board of Education Nov. 14—shortens spring break from 10 days to six and designates only two planning days for teachers, one of which will coincide with Eid al-Fitr. It will also include days off on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah.

The changes are in response to Gov. Larry Hogan’s Aug. 2016 executive order, which mandated that schools retain 180 days of instruction while starting after Labor Day and ending no later than June 15. Schools also have to include 15 closures required by state law.

The approved calendar was the best option given these restrictions, SMOB Matt Post said.

“It was a really frustrating process,” Post said. “We had to balance desire for spring break with the professional days required by teachers along with allowing for operational closures in order to respect religious observances, and we essentially only had six days to divvy out. I truly think we did the best we could.”

Many students expressed disappointment about having a shorter spring break.

“Breaks for me are normally a time to travel or recharge,” sophomore Aditi Gujaran said. “You don’t really feel those extra days in the summer having the same effect.”

Some, however, acknowledge the importance of prioritizing closures on religious holidays over seasonal breaks.

“For the holidays that people fast for, especially, I can understand how physically demanding that can be,” sophomore Evelyn Gregory said. “Those things should probably be respected.”

Many committee members are frustrated by the negative effects Hogan’s order has on students, committee chair Patricia O’Neill said.

“On the surface it looks great,” O’Neill said. “It helps the economy, in theory, in Ocean City, but it wasn’t well thought-out. A lot of our committee members complained that it puts students at a disadvantage for AP and IB exams because other districts start even earlier in August, so they have extra weeks of instruction to prepare their students for those exams.”

For teachers, the greatest issue will be decreased time to collaborate with colleagues and plan lessons, psychology teacher Sheryl Freedman explained.

“When we’ve had full professional days, teachers have been able to dig into something new that we want to create,” Freedman said. “We can discuss ‘why isn’t this working?’ or ‘what is working?’ It’s really about having that solid chunk of time that people need to be able to get something done rather than having it be minimized and disjointed.”

For now, Hogan has provided MCPS with minimal options for lessening these burdens in the future.

“He’s essentially cut off all routes for schools to get a waiver that would allow schools to start before Labor Day,” O’Neill said. “We just voted six to two to send a letter to Governor Hogan asking that the ending date be extended from June 15 to June 22, and that would relieve a lot of the constriction we face right now.”

Leave a Comment

In order to make the Black & White online a safe and secure public forum for members of the community to express their opinions, we read all comments before publishing them. No comments with obscenities, personal attacks, advertisements, nonsense, defamatory or derogatory rhetoric, libel or slander will be published. Comments are meant to spur discussion about the content and/or topic of an article. Please use your real name when commenting.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.