Kendall Bourke would just as soon have school closed and the school year extended. “As a senior, we don’t have to go those days, anyway,” she said.
With Friday’s closure, Montgomery County Schools have the calendar extended by two days, to June 17. Each subsequent closure, should there be any, will extend the school year by another day.
“This year, they can at least say they warned us,” said Julie Dobson, president of the Potomac Elementary PTA.
The policy of how to extend the school year was adopted in December of 2002. The state mandates 180 days, and Montgomery County typically schedules 184 in order to accommodate some closures. This year, however, school has been closed for six days, forcing the extension of the year by two days.
The school closing contingency plan is approved in conjunction with the school calendar. It provides for the up to nine days of school closures, which would extend the year to June 22.
If the school system is closed more than nine days, the Board of Education would have to make a decision about how to make up the additional days.
THE EXTENSION raises some questions in parent’s minds, however about a loss of instructional time. The last days of school are sometimes filled with games and parties, rather than instructional time.
Some parents are concerned about swapping a day in the winter, which would be used for learning, for a summer day of parties.
“There’s absolutely parental concern that the days are put to instructional use,” Dobson said. However, Dobson points out that is what parents asked for. “They said they didn’t want to lose any time from spring break,” Dobson said.
According to school policy, the day is supposed to be put to use.
“The day is meant for instruction,” said Kate Harrison, spokesperson for Montgomery County Public Schools.
Since high school seniors graduate before the school year ends, they simply get the day off without having to make it up.
“When it starts going into spring break, then we’ll worry about it,” Bourke said. However, she pointed out that it can be a problem for families who plan to go away. “I know it makes it harder for families who want to go on vacation,” Bourke said.
Underclass high school students may have other problems with an extended year — internships.
“Some are longer than the summer, already,” Bourke said.