Montgomery County education officials are renewing their request to Gov. Larry Hogan to ease up on his school calendar mandate.

This month, school board President Michael Durso sent Hogan a letter outlining the challenges of designing a school year to fit within the state-mandated timeframe. Hogan has ordered school districts to begin classes after Labor Day and wrap them up by June 15. Durso didn’t quarrel with the start date, but said Montgomery County would appreciate some flexibility with the hard stop. 

In the 2018-2019 calendar, which the board recently finalized, June 15 falls on a Saturday, so classes can’t go past June 14, Durso said. In future years, June 15 lands on a Monday or Tuesday, creating other scheduling complications.

“For example, school systems would need to keep air-conditioning running over the weekend for the additional day or two,” he wrote. “Another concern would be how summer camps or child care would be impacted by a shortened week; if they did not start until the following week, families would need to find coverage for the days following the last school day.”

The difficulty of complying with the end-date restriction is heightened because school systems must fit snow makeup days into the calendar before June 15, Durso wrote. That means school districts must schedule 180 days of instruction before June 11, 2019, he added.

Allowing the school districts to put snow makeup days after June 15 would help them design their calendars, he said.


County school board members earlier this year wrote a similar letter to Hogan.

It did not go well.

“As other jurisdictions have had no problem complying with this Order in a way that addresses emergency weather-related closings, the true motivation for your concerns appears to be protecting teachers union contracts, which require an unreasonable number of ‘professional days’ during the school year,” Hogan replied in March. “It is unacceptable for students to miss this much classroom time and to force parents to alter their schedules or find childcare during the school year, when this professional development could easily take place during the summer break.”


In recent months, a number of jurisdictions have had to consider shortening spring break, eliminating teacher planning and grading days, or cutting closures on Jewish religious holidays.

The Montgomery County board ultimately decided to trim four days from the traditional 10-day spring break in the 2018-2019 academic calendar. The plan provides 182 instructional days and two teacher planning or grading days.

12.1.17 Ltr Governor Hogan Re Calendar by Bethany on Scribd


Walter Johnson alum wins Nobel Prize

A graduate of Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda has received a Nobel Prize for research on circadian rhythms.


The Pitch, the school newspaper, reported last month that Jeffrey Hall was part of the Walter Johnson class of 1963. Hall, who was affiliated with the University of Maine at the time of the award, shared the 2017 prize in physiology or medicine with fellow researchers Michael Rosbash and Michael Young.

Their work studying fruit flies shed light on the way the biological clocks of plants, animals and people adjust to the Earth’s rotation. More details on their findings are available here.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at