MCPS School Board passes new 2023-2024 school year calendar: step in right direction

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Michelle Batres

The new 2023-2024 calendar shows that MCPS is ready to take a step in the right direction, but what more can be done for further improvements?

The Montgomery County Board of Education has recently passed a proposal for the revised 2023-2024 school year calendar. Montgomery County Pubic Schools is by no means perfect, but this is a large step in the right direction.

A survey with four proposed scenarios was sent out to parents, teachers, students, and staff to gauge whether there was interest in a calendar change before a decision would be made.

Once the survey had been concluded, the results were discussed during a special Board of Education Policy Management Committee on Monday, November 21, 2022.

The feedback received from the survey contributed to the superintendent’s final recommendation for the 2023–2024 School Year Calendar, which will consist of 182 school days. with the first day of school beginning on the 28th of August and concluding on the 13th of June; with an extra day being added onto winter break.

Extensive community engagement efforts for feedback were made when creating the calendar and the turnout is proof of this. According to Executive Director, Douglas Hollis Jr, employee response to the survey increased by over 400% since last year, and student response increased by 1000%.

It would have been easy to keep the discussion under the rug and pop up at the start of the following school year with a new calendar, but their decision to be transparent all throughout the process establishes trust and promotes a sense of community and belonging. whenever you give people a voice or say in the matter it empowers them.

But while we can appreciate the Board of Education’s decision to extend our winter break, and consider the opinions of those who this change affects most; the new calendar is far from perfect.

Frederick County Public Schools’ plans to incorporate three virtual contingency days in the event of school closure due to inclement weather was approved by the Maryland State Department of Education. This plan would reserve three days in the FCPS 2023-2024 school year calendar for virtual snow days in order to avoid additional days being added on at the end of the year. 

While reviewing the plan I could not help but wonder why. Why is this only now becoming a topic of discussion? And why is MCPS not following suit? These extended days at the end of the school year can be very irritating and serves as a great inconvenience to many; tampering with plans and scheduled family vacations.

If the purpose of a calendar is to provide the most accurate outline of events that are to take place during the school year, it makes sense to take into consideration an unavoidable natural occurrence. The continual failure to do so only reflects poorly on the county’s analytical prowess. But recent efforts give me hope that we are moving in the right direction; slowly but surely.

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