An advisory committee is expected to recommend that the Howard County school board not adopt the ambitious proposal to rearrange the school year into nine-week terms and shorten the summer break by three weeks.
The advisory board had sought comment from parents and teachers about instituting one-week breaks after each of the four terms to augment teacher training time. Regular holiday breaks would have been retained.
But working parents reacted to the "9-1" plan with "panic," especially over the notion of having to make day-care arrangements for the additional weeks of vacation, said Sandra French, an advisory committee member who is a former president of the Council of PTAs. "There's been a big backing off the 9-1 plan," she said.
County teachers were "overwhelmingly" opposed, said James Swab, president of the teachers union, the Howard County Education Association.
"A lot of teachers and instructional assistants were saying they wouldn't be able to start college courses for certification because they'd be in school longer. Others felt that the present system of getting in-service training was working," he said.
The advisory committee, which is to report to the school board June 14, is likely to recommend that instead of instituting the 9-1 plan, the county extend paid staff time by a week, school system spokeswoman Patti Vierkant said.
Teachers would have the option of working the extra week. And additional training days would be scattered throughout the regular school year, Vierkant said.
However, she said the report's recommendations are still tentative.
The committee also may recommend that each school hire two non-teaching assistants to help with teachers' cafeteria and bus duties, said Doris Vanek, the school system's staff development supervisor.
"Teachers said, 'Help us maximize the time we have now in school for more planning and collaboration,' " Vanek said. "Another thing they asked for is flexibility. They want more choices in the training and staff development available to them."
Under the advisory panel's draft proposal, teachers could be paid for coming to school two weeks before students. Now they are paid for only one week before the start of classes.
The changes, if approved, would take effect after the 1990-91 school year.
The cost of those changes has not yet been calculated, Vanek said.
"Teachers traditionally get their rooms set up on their own time. In terms of supporting them as employees, it would be great if we can pay them for their services," Vanek said.
Swab, the union president, said the 9-1 plan would cost $7 million to $8 million.
He said teachers also were concerned about finding day-care arrangements for their own children during the additional in-service training periods included in the 9-1 plan.
Such arrangements "would be hard to line up for a week," he said.
Some 9-1 foes also have said the plan would make it more difficult for students to work or attend camp during the summer.
Even though the Maryland schools superintendent is talking about lengthening the school year from 180 days to 200, "this county hasn't even faced the fact that students need a seventh period" in high school, said advisory committee member French, who is also president of the Glenelg High School PTA.
"We must address the issue that other countries have longer school years and longer school days," she said. The county needs to "provide teachers with adequate time to prepare . . . and also make sure that our children are truly prepared for the demands of the 21st century."