ROCKVILLE – The Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education voted unanimously to approve MCPS staff’s 2017-2018 school year calendar that management adjusted to comply with the governor’s executive order, on Monday.
Chris Lloyd, president of teachers union Montgomery County Education Association, said he is concerned about how the new school year calendar will affect teachers’ ability to enter grades into the server and plan for their classes.
“I think it’s going to be very hard for teachers,” Lloyd said shortly after the board approved the calendar and he heard the changes for the first time.
He estimated that teachers will lose between eight and 11 hours of scheduled time to enter grades for report cards and for planning for the next quarter.
“We've had to alter our approach to professional days at end of each marking period,” said Essie McGuire of MCPS’ Office of Chief Operating Officer to the board.
Superintendent Jack Smith said instead of three full professional days, a day for each quarter, teachers will receive one full day prior to the third quarter and an early release day at the end of the first quarter and at the end of the third quarter.
The remaining time will be made up, “It just won’t be during a school day,” Smith said.
However, Lloyd disagreed and said he believed the grading time needed to be scheduled during a professional day.
"Given the increase in workload for teachers, that's a disappointment, because I think the teachers are going to have a hard time doing that work without that time built into the calendar,” Lloyd said.
The MCPS administration had to redo its proposed school year calendar to comply with Gov. Larry Hogan‘s (R) executive order of beginning classes after Labor Day but having the last day of school by June 15.
Chief Operating Officer Andy Zuckerman said teachers are changing when they use this time to enter grades and to plan but MCPS will still pay the teachers as if they had worked the full day.
The school system will pay teachers for working those professional hours at the end of the marking period usually reserved to entering grades into the data management system and planning lessons for the following quarter. However, the change is that they will have two early-release days in place of two of the three professional days.
Board of Education member Pat O’Neill said the calendar does not seem to leave flexibility in case MCPS has several consecutive days of snow.
“As long as we have no snow days, we’ll be fine,” O’Neill said.
She had said during the board discussion, however, that MCPS would not be prepared in case Montgomery County experienced another “Snowmageddon” similar to the blizzard in January 2016.
Lloyd said he had suggested a few ways to add the lost grading and planning hours back into the schedule prior to Monday’s presentation, but management did not approve his idea. However, he said he intends to formulate other suggestions to make up the hours lost to early release rather than zero classes days.
Make-up instructional days, in case instructional time is lost due to bad weather, are as follows:
The first two days of the scheduled spring break, March 26 and 27, 2018, according to MCPS. Jan. 26, 2018 would replace a professional development day. If MCPS needs more contingency dates, the school year would extend until June 15, 2018.