Ever wonder just why some events are in the school calendar? Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the School Calendar for Students and Teachers.
Why do we have all the staff development days in the first semester?
The Directors of Instruction and the Coordinators of Curriculum continue to believe that the best staff development comes at the beginning of the year so that implementation can take place during that school year in a timely fashion.
Why do we continue to have a long Thanksgiving break?
First, research continues to show that Thanksgiving is the most traveled holiday. Secondly, we have traditionally had two days for teacher conferences. At one time, those days were earlier in the month. When surveyed, peopled voted to have them blocked with Thanksgiving. Thirdly, the time between the end of the marking period and the time needed to produce report cards coincides with this planning.
Why are the high school students out of school during the November elementary and middle school conferences? Why are the elementary and middle school students out of school during the January high school exams?
At the present time, this continues to be a monetary issue. Sending just high school students or just elementary/middle school students to school during these dates would result in more than 180 days of busing. The school system continues to prefer to allocate monies to classroom needs rather than transportation expenses.
Why don't we move the two days in November (parent-teacher conferences for elementary and middle schools) to the end of the year? Why don't we move the two work days in January to the end of the year?
The majority of elementary and middle school teachers continue to support using two days for conferences. High school teachers continue to support the need for two days at the end of the first semester.
Why isn't the calendar decided by educators? Or parents? Or the community?
The calendar is decided by a committee whose members are from the negotiated units - Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County (TAAAC), Association of Educational Leaders (AEL), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Secretaries and Assistants Association of Anne Arundel County (SAAAAC), as well as the Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils (CRASC), Parent Teacher Association (PTA), and Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC). Others are added from stakeholders as the need is identified. For example, at present someone from the Student Data Office participates in order to help set the dates for interims and report cards.
All the planned partial days in the school calendar are early dismissal days. Why doesn't the calendar alternate between early dismissals and late arrivals for these planned days?
Several years ago, parents voted overwhelmingly on this issue. Their votes supported having only early dismissals. They felt that it was easier to plan for child care as well as just easier to remember. They felt that consistency helped make it less confusing.
Why don't we have more half days? For example, the first three days of school could be half days, or Parent Teacher Conference days could be half days.
Quite often, people believe that we need only attend a half day in order to get credit for that day and still have it count toward the state requirement of 180 days. However, the state also added a requirement for the number of hours students must be in school. Records must be kept for this also. Any early dismissals or late arrivals must be subtracted from this time. If the time requirements are not met by the end of the school year, students could have to go for extra time to make up those hours.
If we just had longer school days, taking half days would not be a problem. Why don't we just add to the time students are in school?
At present, the negotiated agreement for teachers limits the number of hours available. Any extension of the school day would require additional salary for staff. At present, there is no indication that extra monies are going to be available for the school system to add either hours or days.
Why can't we minimize the delay between the end of the marking period and report card distribution?
This delay is necessary in order to prepare the 41,000 report cards needed for secondary students in our system. The schedule always includes three work days for teachers to complete grades (negotiated agreement), three work days for individual schools to verify grades and correct student grading information, three work days for Central Office staff to process grades from all schools attended and print report cards (100,000 print impressions must be made for all the needed copies of the report cards), one work day to deliver the printed copies to the schools, one work day for the schools to distribute report cards to teachers, and one work day to distribute report cards to students. In fact, in most cases the work load is so intense at the Central Office that the process must run 24 hours a day or over a weekend to meet this very tight schedule.