A Message from the County MCCPTA President

Hello everyone –
I’m continuing to hear lots of buzz about the school calendar issues for 2018-19, including many comments showing that people don’t understand WHY we are in the pickle we’re in.
Here is the Cliff Notes version of the issue:
* On Oct. 11, 2016 Governor Hogan issued an executive order, effective with the 2017-18 school year, requiring that all public schools begin school after Labor Day, and end school by June 15
* The Maryland Department of Education mandates a minimum of 180 instructional days for all public school districts
* MCPS has traditionally scheduled 184 instructional days – early release days count
* Mandating hard start and hard stop means school systems have to squeeze all the required instructional days between the two — that includes making up snow days and the like
* So — if it’s a bad winter, and the school calendar doesn’t have enough snow days built in (tough to do with a Governor-imposed hard start/stop), the school districts have to take away scheduled holidays on the fly — and most of the scheduled holidays post-winter are Spring Break
* Having to remove planned school holidays during the school year creates a whole bunch of difficulties — so school districts naturally look to avoid that — thus the option of scheduling a de minimus Spring Break — which many nearby school systems are doing
* Here is a link to the BOE Policy Management Committee’s discussion of some 2018-19 calendar options being considered. Documents summarizing these are also attached, as is the actual Executive Order:
These are just options, and not the universe of possible solutions to the calendar crunch.  The BOE is actively soliciting comments.  Here is a link to the “School Calendar” page of the MCPS website — good discussion and information, and a comment window at the bottom — scroll all the way to the bottom of the page:
There are many opinions out there about the school calendar, number of instructional days, and structure of the school year.  A voice not being represented well in the conversation is that of families with the most impacted students — and those families are most affected, financially and otherwise, but the governor’s mandate.
Conversation and discussion about options is good — but in my opinion, mandated strictures on the school calendar are NOT.  It is very difficult to have a meaningful dialog about the school calendar — insuring all voices are represented — when the system is in the hard start/hard stop crunch. Getting rid of the mandated start/stop can allow an actual conversation, and recognize that each of Maryland’s 24 school systems is perfectly capable of deciding its own school calendar.
I think a first step in advocacy around the school-calendar issue is clear.  Ask the governor to rescind the executive order and once again let the public school systems make their own calendar decisions. I’ve spoken to lots of our General Assembly Delegation about the possibility of a legislative fix — rescinding the order that way.  What I’m hearing is that the electeds haven’t heard from constituents who want the mandate removed — and absent the public voice, the General Assembly won’t act. So — if it’s important to you, it’s time to speak.  Here is a link to write to the governor about this issue:
It’s a simple tool to use, took me less than 5 minutes. Remember everyone, it’s both easier, and more important, than you think to SPEAK to the issues you care about.
Thanks,
Lynne Harris
MCCPTA president
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