ROCKVILLE – Montgomery County students cut their spring break short to make up the first of two additional school days. Though the day was mandatory, local students and parents were hesitant to shorten their spring breaks to attend school.
“I was a little bit disappointed about the shortened break and I know a lot of people were complaining,” said Laura Cholvibol, a senior at Wootton High School in Rockville. “People kept the same plans and didn’t want to come back for one day of school. Half the school didn’t come in – we didn’t do anything anyway.”
Cholvibol said one of her teachers brought her preschool-age child to class because county pre-K students were not required to make up snow days. She said this also impeded teaching on the contingency day.
Each additional school day costs MCPS $500,000 and will be pulled from reserve budget. MCPS spokesman Dana Tofig said the missed day will be counted as an unexcused absence.
MCPS added two additional days, the first shortening spring break and the second extending the school year to June 13. The school system used its five allotted snow days plus six additional days. Dr. Lillian M. Lowery, superintendent of Maryland State Department of Education, allowed local school systems to apply for a waiver for four days.
Andrea Torres, a fourth-grade general education teacher at Gaithersburg Elementary School, said the school days allow her to make up for lost teaching time.
“I personally don’t care about extending the school year for a few reasons,” Torres said. “For one, the new curriculum is jam packed with lots to teach. All the snow days MCPS had to have put us behind in the curriculum…especially in the elementary schools where the curriculum was new this year. That being said, we had a lot of catching up to do.”
Torres, who is from upstate N.Y., said she was angry that the school system took so many days off. She said she understands the frustrations of parents and teachers who have to rearrange summer vacations and other plans.
“I think the extension is worth it is because they were already the ‘contingency days’ on the school calendar and we will not be adding more that those days,” Torres said. “In terms of pay, we’ve been paid for those snow/emergency days. I understand those MCPS employees who have families with young children or who had plans for the summer already that week after school was scheduled to be finished. I feel bad for those who have to pay a few more days of daycare, or find other child care while they finish out the school year. And those who had vacations scheduled…well, I feel really bad.”
Holden Wilen contributed to this report.