County School Board Considers Reviving Longer Spring Break
Main difference between two calendar proposals is six- or 10-day option
School board President Michael Durso at Tuesday's meeting
Following a one-year hiatus, Montgomery County Public Schools’ 10-day spring break could return.
The Montgomery County school board on Tuesday continued discussion about two academic calendar options for the 2019-2020 school year, including one that functions most similarly to this school year’s calendar with a six-day spring break and institutes non-instructional days at the end of each quarter for professional planning.
The other scenario revives the popular 10-day spring break and allows for some early release days for professional planning at the end of each quarter.
The calendar options both feature 182 instructional days, beginning classes on Sept. 3 and ending on June 15, 2020, the final day allowed for instruction by the state government.
The state mandates 180 instructional days, allowing the proposed 181st and 182nd days to function as make-up days should there be unexpected school closures throughout the year. Both calendars identify the first two days of spring break as possible make-up days due to emergency closings. Those days would be April 6 and 7, 2020, in the 10-day spring break calendar and April 8 and 9 in the six-day break calendar.
Jill Ortman-Fouse, an at-large representative on the board, questioned the viability of holding the last day of school on a Monday, especially when it is scheduled to be a half-day for students.
However, to eliminate the final Monday of instruction, the board would have to choose to hold classes on a day when schools are scheduled to be closed earlier in the year, of which there aren’t many choices, board members said.
District 3 board member Pat O’Neill said the board has already received community input in favor of the 10-day spring break schedule.
“People have generally been supportive of wanting to go back to a full traditional break for the most part, but we felt we should put both scenarios out for comment consideration,” O’Neill said.
Both calendar options close school on Monday, Dec. 23, 2019, and include non-instructional days to coincide with Rosh Hashanah on Sept. 30 and Yom Kippur on Oct. 9, which were identified in a district-wide survey as days parents, students and community members preferred to be out of school.
The survey was deployed in the spring to garner feedback about the best school calendar for MCPS families and determine when the most students and staff would be absent from classes. District officials received more than 37,000 responses showing a possible increase in student and staff absences for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Veterans Day should the district remain open, leading to the calendar recommendations.
Other highlights of both calendars include one non-instructional day at the end of the second quarter and early release days for parent-teacher conferences on Nov. 11 and 12, 2019.
Following Tuesday’s meeting, the district will post the two options on its website to gather public input. The board plans to make a calendar decision in November.
Two MCPS schools will have alternate schedules, despite which option the school board chooses.
Arcola Elementary School in Wheaton and Roscoe R. Nix Elementary School in Silver Spring were recently approved to run on an innovative school year calendar designed to avoid prolonged lapses in instructional time in low-performing or at-risk public schools, according to the state Department of Education.
The key difference for these schools is that they will have 210 instructional days, with classes to begin on July 8, 2019, and end around June 15, 2020.