The development of the school year calendar is a complex and lengthy process that has considerable input from a wide variety of groups affiliated with AACPS. Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the calendar process.
Who has input into the development of the calendar?
The Office of School and Family Partnerships oversees the calendar development process, which begins with the formation of a Calendar Committee. The committee is made of up AACPS employees, students, and representatives of employee bargaining units and parent groups. It seeks comment on the calendar each fall, considers the needs of the schools system and requirements imposed by mandates and negotiated agreements, and provides recommendations both for the upcoming year and the one after that to the Superintendent each fall.
The Superintendent, in turn, provides recommendations to Board of Education. The Board, usually in November, will formally adopt an official calendar for the upcoming year and a tentative calendar for the subsequent year. This latter is done in order to give parents a framework for a calendar more than a year ahead of time so that they can make appropriate plans.
What is accomplished by early dismissals for staff professional development days?
As is the case with any industry, teachers and other AACPS employees need to continue to enhance their knowledge, skills, and approaches in order to best meet the needs of students. Early dismissal days allow for this systemwide professional development to take place without the need for building additional days into the school year, something that would be necessary if schools were to be closed on professional development days.
In previous years, AACPS allocated two days for parent-teacher conferences. Why are there now three, spread throughout the school year?
The Board of Education and Superintendent George Arlotto believe strongly that parent involvement with those who teach their children is crucial to student success. The 2016-2017 school year calendar provides three days of conferences (October 20, 2016; December 2, 2016; and March 3, 2017) during which parents at all levels – elementary, middle, and high school – will have opportunities to meet with their child’s teachers. The March date is especially beneficial for high school students, who have different courses and teachers in the second semester than in the first.
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 on this issue, and overwhelmingly supported having only early dismissals. Delayed openings, many parents felt, would cause issues with child care arrangements. Additionally, utilizing only early dismissals makes the calendar change in this regard easier to remember for parents.
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.
Many people believe that students 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 school days. However, the state also has a requirement for the number of hours students must be in school. Records must be kept for this as well, and 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.
How does the school system deal with inclement weather days?
There are three days built into the end of the school year for inclement weather days. If fewer than three days are needed, the unneeded days will be subtracted from the end of the school year.
If four days are needed for inclement weather before the Easter/Spring Break, AACPS will petition the State Board of Education to open schools on Easter Monday to account for the fourth inclement weather day. Schools are closed on the Monday after Easter by state law, so a waiver is necessary to open schools on that day.
Should more than four days be needed for inclement weather closings, AACPS will discuss requesting a waiver of the 180-day requirement from the State Board of Education and make adjustments accordingly. By state law, the school year must end by June 15.