Grasmick wants to waive 180-day rule
We have to be sensitive to the weather,' state superintendent says
State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick is planning to request a waiver for some of the instructional days school systems would have to make up because of this past week's two snowstorms.
Grasmick will ask the state school board later this month to waive three or four instructional days, she told The Gazette on Thursday.
Under state law, school systems are required to provide 180 days of instruction to their students. However, some systems have sought waivers to the 180-day rule due to the havoc with school schedules created by the snow blanketing the state.
Back-to-back storms have kept schools closed this week and forced school systems to use all of their snow days.
For each instructional day lost because of inclement weather, the school year is extended one day.
Some school systems are concerned about losing much-needed instructional time for students, but "we have to be sensitive to the weather," Grasmick said. "We're going to be looking at what's viable."
Some school systems are seeking to hold classes Monday, which is Presidents Day, and Grasmick said she would allow them to open their schools. However, weather forecasters predict another 3 inches or more of snow for Monday.
"This has been an extraordinary winter so far, with two separate states of emergency, so any relief would be helpful," said Bob Mosier, a spokesman for the Anne Arundel County school system.
Besides the requirement for the number of school days, the school system is concerned, he said, about "lost preparation time" for the Maryland School Assessments for elementary and middle school students and the High School Assessments, which all high school students must pass before they graduate.
The Montgomery County school system has used all of its snow days for the academic year. School board President Patricia B. O'Neill (Dist. 3) of Bethesda recalled a time seven years ago when the school system used all its snow days in September because of Hurricane Isabel.
That year, O'Neill said, Grasmick also waived the 180-day requirement.
But while the proposal is commendable, it's still early in the winter season and "we don't know what the rest of the winter will bring," O'Neill said.
"It's a responsible thing to do," she said of Grasmick's proposal. "We can't control Mother Nature, and I know our teachers will do their best to catch kids up."