Wicomico calendar pointed toward post-Labor Day start

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Members of the Wicomico County Board of Education are asking for additional input as they prepare to finalize the 2017-2018 school year calendar.

Input must be in by Dec. 7, to give school board members time to consider it before they take a final vote on Dec. 13, at their 1:30 p.m. meeting, in the Board of Education Building on Long Avenue.

At the Nov. 15 meeting, board members adopted on first reading a calendar that sets the first day of school after Labor Day, on Tuesday, Sept. 5, for most students and the last day on Tuesday, June 12, according to Tracy Sahler, who handles public relations for the board.

Two draft calendars, one with school starting before Labor Day and the other with school beginning after, were shared with the community in the fall. More than 300 people commented, with 72 percent favoring a post-Labor Day start. Twenty-eight percent wanted school to begin the Monday before Labor Day.

In August, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued an executive order requiring public schools to start after Labor Day and end by June 15, “unless a school system is granted a waiver from these requirements,” Sahler said.

Dr. Donna Hanlin, superintendent of schools, said the community responded and “overwhelmingly preferred the draft calendar with the post-Labor Day start.”

“We invite anyone who has suggestions or comments on next year’s school calendar to e-mail or call us so that we can take their ideas into consideration,” Hanlin said.

To share comments, see comments@wcboe.org or by calling 410-677-5251.

Other important 2017-2018 school calendar dates include:

  • Sept. 4, Labor Day. Schools and the Central Office will be closed.
  • Sept. 5. School starts for students in grades 1 to 6 and 9, but grade 6 only at Mardela and grades in Pittsville. Prekindergarten and kindergarten students will report the first week as assigned by the school.
  • Sept. 6. All students in grades 1 to 12 will be in school.
  • Oct. 20. No school for students and a profession day for teachers, during the Maryland State Education Association Convention.
  • Nov. 8. Professional day, with schools closed for students but open for teachers.
  • Nov. 22 to 24. Thanksgiving break.
  • Dec. 20 to Jan. 1. Winter holiday break.
  • Jan. 15. Schools and Central Office closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
  • Jan. 29. Professional Day, with schools closed for students but open for teachers.
  • Feb. 1. Evening high school winter commencement.
  • Feb. 19. Schools and Central Office closed for Presidents’ Day.
  • March 29. Professional Day, with schools closed for students but open for teachers.
  • March 30 and April 2. Central Office and schools closed for spring holiday break.
  • May 28. Schools and Central Office closed for Memorial Day.
  • May 31. Evening high school spring commencement.
  • June 8. James M. Bennett High School commencement at 7 p.m.
  • June 9. Commencement ceremonies for Mardela High School at 10 a.m., Parkside High School at 2:30 p.m. and Wicomico High School at 7 p.m.
  • June 8, 11 and 12. Two-hour early dismissal.
  • June 12. Last day of school.

Sahler said the school calendar must include a minimum of 180 days of student instruction. Teachers, by contract, must work 190 days. 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 are dismissed for 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 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, Sahler said.

The Code of Maryland requires schools to be closed on Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and the day after, Dec. 24 to Jan. 1, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Presidents Day, Good Friday, the Monday after Easter and Memorial Day.

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

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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