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Maryland schools get a break on making up snow days

By Michael Birnbaum
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 24, 2010; B04

Spring break is in significantly less peril for public schools in Maryland after the State Board of Education decided Tuesday to allow schools to request waivers for the minimum number of days they must be in session this year.

A snowy winter has forced many school districts to come up with creative ways to make up for lost time, including lengthening class days and, in Frederick County, shaving two days off spring break. The state board's decision, which allows school systems to dip up to five days below the 180-day minimum school year, makes it likely that most other districts won't follow suit.

"Hopefully, we won't get any more snow," said Tanzi West Barbour, a spokeswoman for the Prince George's County schools, which has nine days to make up. A five-day waiver would extend its school year by four days.

Montgomery County schools, which had planned a 184-day school year, doesn't plan to extend its year at all -- for now. Loudoun County doesn't plan any changes either, a spokesman said.

But other school systems in the Washington area are considering more drastic measures. Many plan to extend at least a few days into the summer. The District might stretch the school day and is expected to announce a decision this week. In Fairfax County and Alexandria, school boards are considering whether to add half an hour to the school day, and Stafford County might add 20 minutes. Anne Arundel County schools are taking suggestions on their Web site about what they should do.

Staff writer Michael Alison Chandler contributed to this report.

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