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ACPS Survey Wants Pre Labor Day Start

March 11th, 2015 by WCBC Radio

The Allegany County Public School System recently solicited comments regarding the adoption of a 2015-2016 Academic Year calendar.  This year calendar consideration is complicated by current state legislation, HB389/SB455, which, if passed, would require school systems to implement calendars mandating a post Labor Day start for students.

For this reason, ACPS administrators developed two potential calendars for the 2015-2016 school year, one with a regular August start for students and one with a post Labor Day start, and asked for feedback from parents, staff and the community.  Both draft calendars very closely mirror the 2014-2015 Academic Year Calendar.

A total of 185 parents and/or community members responded to an online survey asking which 2015-2016 academic year calendar they supported, a regular start or a post Labor Day start.  Of these 185 individuals, 141, or 76.22% responded that they would prefer a regular pre Labor Day start for students.  Additionally, a total of 383 ACPS staff members responded to the same question, and 287, or 74.93% were in favor of a pre Labor Day start. 

Comments were also received via email and on the ACPS Facebook page, and once again, the majority was in support of a regular, pre Labor Day start for students.  With a post Labor Day start, many individuals are concerned about the number of snow days Allegany County incurs during a typical winter, thus extending the school year late into June.  Practice for fall sports also begins in August, and many families have students with obligations to these teams, prohibiting them from vacationing later in the summer.  Moreover, several comments stressed the importance of instructional days earlier in the school year and prior to mandated assessments.

The Maryland State Department of Education requires a minimum of 180 days of student instruction; however, the State Board of Education may consider waivers from local school districts for the purpose of reducing the required number of student instructional days, but only after local school boards have exercised their local options to recover days. In addition to the 180-day requirement, there are certain days mandated by the State that must be used as legal holidays (Thanksgiving Day and the day after; Christmas Eve through January 1st; Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday; Presidents’ Day; Good Friday and Easter Monday; Memorial Day, and Primary and General Election Days), and in order to reclaim any of these days as instructional make-up days, school districts need permission from the State Superintendent, who consults with the State Board of Education.

ACPS voted last month to reclaim the Thursday before Easter, April 2nd, as a make-up day.  The board is being asked also to consider reclaiming the Monday after Easter, April 6th, as a make-up day as well. To date, students have missed a total of ten instructional days due to inclement weather.  The tentative last day of school for students is June 12, 2015, or June 11, 2015, if April 6th also becomes a make-up day. 

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