MCPS sets 2018-2019 calendar, shortens spring break

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MCPS sets 2018-2019 calendar, shortens spring break

2018-2019 MCPS school calendar.

2018-2019 MCPS school calendar.

2018-2019 MCPS school calendar.

2018-2019 MCPS school calendar.

Sarah Elbeshbishi

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Montgomery County Public Schools’ 2018-2019 calendar will begin school after Labor Day again and end by June 15, complying with Governor Larry Hogan’s 2016 mandate.

The 2018-2019 school year begins for students on September 4, 2018, and ends on June 13, 2019, consisting of 182 instructional days. This calendar will only include four days off of school as spring break rather than the six in the 2017-2018 school year.

“The after Labor Day start and the June 15 closure has restricted [the Board of Education] in terms of what happens in between that,” Michael Durso, President of the Board of Education, said.

Despite the lack of a traditional spring break, the BOE managed to continue with giving days off on Jewish and Muslim holidays by labeling them as non-instructional days. The built-in make up days were also added to the calendar.

Though the past two calendars were very similar, the 2018-2019 school calendar proved a little more problematic. “This year was a tad more difficult, but those restrictions by the governor have really created some problems for us,” Durso added.

Due to the late start, MCPS has decreased the number of teacher workday during the school year, either replacing them with half-days or moving them to the week before the start of the school year.  

The lack of teacher workdays through the year is not popular among all teachers. “We need the time to be more effective as teachers,” math teacher Perry Berenson said.

Limiting the number of teacher workdays has also caused teachers to put “in many more hours a day…because I don’t have those days built in. Normally at the end of each quarter, there’d be a day to get it together and…[we] don’t have that anymore,” Berenson added.

While some teachers did not enjoy the eight pre-service days, others believed them to be beneficial despite their initial reservations. “We thought it was going to be too many days and we didn’t want to end our summer early, but it actually worked out because great we had plenty of time to get ready,” English teacher Ellen Stahly said. “[Preparing for the school year] was a calmer process.”  

While there is a later start to the instructional year, neither students nor teachers are happy about the shortened spring break.

“I’m really upset,” junior Alexandra Aucoin said. “I’m going on the  Italy [spring break] trip, so it’s like all the days that we’re gone are…unexcused absences. And…kids just need a time to themselves to relax and to take their mind off school work.”

Not only will the shortened spring break hinder planned vacations and trips but it will also affect college visits.  “[I] think [the shortened spring break is] regrettable because you have a lot of students who use spring break to go to college visits,” social studies teacher Tom Sneddon said.

Despite the BOE intention of fitting the minimum 180 instructional days into the constraint, kids who cannot attend college visits during the break will now need to miss school, which defeats the main purpose of limiting break, Sneddon added.

The 2016 mandate is still not popular among some staff, even after the first year of implementation. “Governor Hogan made this decision based on tourism and not education,” principal Carol Goddard said. “What’s more important?”  

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