Dis­trict seeks to waive one school day due to snow

Kent County News - - NEWS - By DANIEL DIVILIO ddivilio@thekent­coun­tynews.com

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.

PHOTO BY JACK RODGERS

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.

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