Schools seek feedback on Labor Day schedule

As they plan the school calendar for the 2017-2018 academic year, members of the Wicomico County Board of Education are asking for community input.

Comments, preferences and suggestions are due by noon on Friday, Nov. 4, at comments@wcboe.org or by calling 410-677-5251.

Two draft calendars, one with school starting before Labor Day and one with it beginning afterward, have been created to view, so board members can get feedback before they discuss the matter at their Nov. 15 meeting. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m.

Find the drafts at wcboe.org and click on “Calendar.” A comparison of dates is also provided, according to Tracy Sahler, who handles public relations for the board of education.

One draft sets the first day of school on Monday, Aug. 28 and the last day on Tuesday, June 5.

The other has the first day of school on Tuesday, Sept. 5, and the last day on Tuesday, June 12.

In August, Gov. Larry Hogan issued an executive order requiring Maryland public schools to begin after Labor Day and end by June 15, unless a waiver is granted. An Oct. 11 an update of the executive order provided new guidance on the waiver process.

The post-Labor Day start order is likely to be a topic of discussion during the 2017 Maryland General Assembly, Sahler said.

Officials in Wicomico County, as well as in other school systems and professional educational organizations, believe school calendar decisions should be made at the local level with community input, Sahler said.

School systems statewide are reviewing calendar options and asking for community input, she said.

Every school calendar must include a minimum of 180 days for student instruction and 190 days for teachers.

The 10 days that teachers do not have students are professional development or records management days. Five of the 10 days take place prior to the opening of the school year, and one day is scheduled for teachers after students leave for the summer, Sahler said.

Just four of the professional days occur during the school year.

In response to calendar suggestions from the Wicomico County Education Association, the school system has included a professional development day at the end of each of the first three marking periods. Oct. 20 is also a professional day, with teachers participating in professional development either in the schools and school system or at the Maryland State Education Association Convention in Ocean City.

Schools must be closed on Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and the day after, from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday, Presidents Day, Good Friday, the Monday after Easter and Memorial Day.

Wicomico schools must also be closed for primary or general elections. There are no elections in the 2017-2018 school calendar.

If needed, makeup days will be added at the end of the school year.

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