District seeks to waive one school day due to snow
ROCK HALL — Kent County Public Schools is requesting the state waive one instructional day to help make up for the two extra snow days the district used this year. Public schools in Maryland are required to have 180 instructional days in the year. KCPS built in five snow days to its academic calendar, but late winter storms forced administrators to cancel class seven days this year. At Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, Supervisor of Human Resources Ed Silver said the district will seek a waiver of one day from the state and make up the other by tacking on a school day at the end of the year. Complicating the decision is the state’s requirement that school not start until after Labor Day and end by June 15. The current calendar calls for Thursday, June 14 to be the last day of school. Administrators plan now to make June 14 a full instructional day and June 15 a half day. That meets the state’s required number of instructional hours in a school year, but falls short of the number of days by one, Silver said. Board Vice President Bryan Williams and member Jeff Reed voiced their concerns with the state’s control over the academic calendar. Reed has been a staunch opponent of the state’s mandate on starting after Labor Day. He raised that issue again Tuesday, saying the state is continuing to take decision-making authority away from local boards. Williams said districts used to be able to extend school days by a couple hours to help make up days and save money in the process. “We could cut down on a lot of costs — extra wasted costs — if we could have done that,” Williams said. “It’s just typical bureaucratic malarkey.” Also at the meeting, it was announced that Superintendent Karen Couch, who was absent, has been appointed to the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, commonly referred to as the Kirwan Commission. Couch reportedly requested a seat on the commission panel reviewing school funding formulas. The board awarded a grass- cutting contract to Top Notch Lawn Care and Landscaping LLC of Henderson. The company bid $845 per cut, covering all five of the district’s schools. Jane Towers, supervisor of financial operations, said the district would save about $740 per cut for 20 cuts a year. Williams voiced his trepidation over the contract, echoing back to the issue the district faced with a new school bus contractor at the start of the year. The district ended up terminating that contract. Jim Bish, maintenance support supervisor, said while there are a lot of lawn care companies in Kent County, the only local one to bid was the current contractor. Towers said the district can exit out of the contract if the work is not satisfactory.
A private driveway off Flatland Road in Chestertown is covered in snow Jan. 4. Kent County Public Schools exceeded the number of snow days built into its calendar this year due to additional winter storms.