Olivia Brooks – Staff Writer
An abundance of snow this year has given Howard County students several days of no school on November 15, January 14 and 30, and February 11 and 20. The school calendar, however, is built only with four inclement weather days and five have already been used. In order to compensate, the academic year has now been stretched to June 21, much to the exasperation of students.
Romina Daraei Baf, a ninth grade student, says, “I don’t think they should extend it to that long since we want to spend our summers freely.”
Making an academic calendar flexible enough to include all of the expected and unexpected circumstances surrounding schools, such as inclement weather, exams, state mandated testing, and even construction, is no easy task, as shown by the process necessary to construct one. The calendar is first developed by a Calendar Committee comprised of representatives for every position in the school system, from parents to principals. The calendar is then presented to the Superintendent, often amended or altered, and is finally given to the Board of Education for approval. It is the Board that makes the final decision.
One important rule factored in is that the state of Maryland mandates that students attend school for a minimum of 180 days, though local Boards of Education can require more days. Teachers, however, often have professional days during the academic year, and according to the Howard County Public School System website, the “current negotiated agreement between the Howard County Board of Education and the Howard County Education Association calls for teachers to work 192 days.”
Even though the intellectual performance of students is of utmost importance, many students point out that cutting into summer vacation is actually detrimental. As eleventh grader Kenneth Haraham points out, “I think that school should not be extended to June 21st, reason being, many people have other important activities to attend (internships, programs, and various other curriculars).”
What occurs in the school building is only a small piece of a student’s overall scholastic career. Many students have outside commitments that require attention over the summer, and denying them this could cause a loss of monetary or academic benefits.