- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Most local public school students will be going to school an extra two days in June to make up for instructional time lost to snow days this winter.
School officials decided to preserve spring break and the Memorial Day holiday, but almost all local school systems have decided to extend the school year by one or two days. A few will lengthen the school day.
"There was considerable reluctance to use holidays to make up time, especially with the stressful nature of the year, including the sniper and the weather," said Montgomery County schools spokeswoman Kate Harrison.
Schools are required to give 180 days of instruction time each year to their students, and most school systems have missed nine or 10 days of school this winter.
However, there is a wide disparity in the number of days that are being made up, depending on how many days were built into the school calendar for cancellations.
In Maryland, Montgomery County students missed 10 days and Prince George's County students missed nine, but students in both school systems will make up three days.
In the District, students missed eight days of school, and they will make up six of those days, spokesman Barrington Salmon said.
The D.C. Board of Education is "waiting for the end of the winter period to implement" any changes, Mr. Salmon said. The board is considering cutting days from spring break or extending the school year.
Despite missing less instructional time, D.C. schools have to make up more days than other school systems because schools in Maryland and Virginia received waivers from their respective state boards of education, and the District did not.
The Maryland State Board of Education has allowed the state's schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick to waive two days from the number required for the year. If a school wants one more removed, officials will have to ask the board for permission.
"She's encouraging, of course, that the students might go to school on staff development days or state holidays," said Bill Reinhard, spokesman for Mrs. Grasmick.
Both Montgomery and Prince George's counties are using the waiver, but Montgomery is planning to ask for one more day to be waived.
In Virginia, any school that misses 10 or more days is obligated to make up only five of those, according to the state's school board.
Fairfax County schools will make up two days of school, even though students missed 10 days. The county had three snow days built into its academic year.
County school officials will hold classes April 7, originally a teacher work day. They will also either extend the school day by 30 minutes April 21 to May 16 or add a day to the end of the year, making the last day June 23 instead of June 20. The Fairfax County School Board is expected to vote on the options tomorrow.
Students in Arlington County will make up seven of the nine missed school days because the county is not eligible to use a waiver issued by the state because it missed fewer than 10 days. Arlington officials will hold classes March 28, originally a teacher work day. They also will extend the school day by 30 minutes March 17 until the end of the school year.
Meanwhile, the Montgomery Board of Education approved a plan yesterday to hold classes March 19, originally a professional day, and extend the year by two days. If its appeal for the third day is turned down, officials will hold classes April 21, the Monday after Easter.
Prince George's County schools is the only system that will not extend its school year, which is scheduled to end June 23. It will use two teacher work days and the day after Easter to make up for its snow days. The county had four snow days built into its school year.
"They'll be able to keep their spring break," said Aleasa Smith, a county schools spokeswoman.
Patrick Badgley contributed to this report.

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