All In: Getting Closer to a 2018–2019 School Calendar
For most of my life—first as a student and then as an educator—my schedule has been governed by the rhythm of the school calendar. Starting a new year each fall, having breaks in winter and spring to refresh, and winding up the student year in early summer are at the core of my being. As a teacher and administrator, I learned the importance of using days during the school year and summer to learn more about how to be an effective teacher so all students can learn and reach their fullest potential.
Building the annual school calendar is complicated because it must simultaneously accomplish many objectives. We need sufficient days for student instruction; time for teacher planning, grading and professional development; and appropriate breaks for staff, students and families to recharge throughout the year.
Building school calendars in Maryland was recently impacted by Governor Larry Hogan’s Executive Order requiring that the student school year fall between Labor Day and June 15. Since that order, school districts across Maryland have been discussing how best to design their calendars to both meet state requirements and the needs of their staffs and communities.
Our challenge is that we now have fewer days to work with to accommodate our local needs and traditions. As we design next year’s calendar, we start with several requirements from the state:
- Tuesday, September 4—Friday, June 14: the permissible time frame for student instruction
- 180: the minimum number of instructional days required
- 15: the number of state-mandated days that schools must be closed between September 4 and June 14
- 3: the number of snow make-up days required at the end of the year (before June 14)
Once we include these state-required elements, a total of six days remain that can be used for our local priorities. These include spring break, closures when it would be difficult to operate the school system (such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), and instructional days above the state minimum of 180.
The Policy Management Committee of the Board of Education has been working on 2018-2019 calendar options for some time and has forwarded four scenarios to the Board for its consideration at its November 14 meeting. The Board is expected to take action on a calendar at this meeting. Please click HERE to view the four proposed calendars, as well as other calendar resources and materials.
The Board and Dr. Zuckerman have communicated with you throughout the process of developing the 2018-2019 calendar, both to share information and updates and to receive comments and feedback. Our webpage at the link above includes a comment drop box, and the Board will continue to receive public comments until it finalizes the calendar. The Board and I have appreciated and benefited from the thoughtful communications and candid feedback we have received from our school community on this issue.
The practical reality is that it is not possible for the 2018-2019 school year calendar to meet everyone’s requests. However, I know that the calendar we adopt will support our core purpose to prepare all students to thrive in their future.
Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas L. Friedman