The Board of Education of Frederick County seeks public feedback in a brief survey to help them finalize the 2019-2020 academic calendar. The survey is online now at www.fcps.org/about/calendar-survey.
The Board needs to accommodate a primary election day scheduled for April 28, 2020. Governor Hogan’s Executive Orders requiring schools to start after Labor Day and end by June 15, as well as state-mandated holidays and teacher work days needed for tasks such as entering end-of-semester grades, limit the Board’s options to reclaiming one of four days originally planned as days off for students. The four possible days were identified after the Board eliminated one teacher work day and all professional-development days during the school year.
The first potential day off the Board could “reclaim” as a school day is traditionally known in Frederick as “Fair Day.” In the coming school year, Fair Day would fall on Friday, September 20. The next potential day the Board could reclaim is Rosh Hashanah, Monday, September 30. Similarly, schools have traditionally closed on Yom Kippur, which is Wednesday, October 9. Both are days scheduled off because of projected low student and staff attendance; by law, schools do not and cannot close for religious observances. While many state and federally mandated days off coincide with traditional Christian holidays, schools are not permitted to celebrate religious holidays by closing schools, though student absences are excused for religious observances. The final potential day to take back is Wednesday, November 27, the day before Thanksgiving. Traditionally, FCPS closes this day because of low attendance, averaging 86%.
FCPS has posted a video to explain the calendar issues along with a link to the survey. The video provides remarks from Board Vice President Joy Schaefer and Calendar Committee co-chairs Julie Marker and Tracey Lucas. Ms. Marker is past president of the PTA Council of Frederick County. Ms. Lucas is FCPS School Administration and Leadership executive director. They represent the Calendar Committee, comprised of parents, teachers and school administrators.
The survey asks school communities to rank three factors in order of importance. They are 1) keeping students in school for the longest stretches of uninterrupted instructional days possible, 2) encouraging and supporting maximum attendance from students and staff; and 3) ensuring that FCPS respects and offers equitable treatment to all its communities and their important traditions. The survey runs through Wednesday, March 27.