(Image Source: Baltimore Sun)
Towson, MD - At the November 9th Baltimore County Board of Education Meeting, officials engaged in key debates regarding the 2022-23 academic calendar.
The Board meeting, which occurs on a bi-monthly basis, took place at the Greenwood Campus offices of Baltimore County Public Schools and opened to the public at 6:30.
For about an hour and a half, the Board discussed the pros and cons of various changes to the 2022-2023 calendar. The primary debate centered around whether to start the school year before Labor Day - beginning August 29 and ending on June 15 - or after Labor Day - beginning on September 6 and ending on June 22.
The Board passed a motion, initially composed by Student Board Member Christian Thomas, to solicit potential 2022-23 calendars from a development team at BCPS Staff Relations. The calendars, one beginning pre-Labor Day and another post-Labor Day, would include professional development days on Diwali (October 24, 2022), the Lunar New Year (January 22, 2023), and Eid al Fitr (April 21-22, 2023). Upon further amendment, Juneteenth (June 19, 2023) and Eid al Adha (June 28-29, 2023) were to be included as PD days in a post-Labor Day scenario. Mr. George Duque, the Manager of Staff Relations at BCPS, acted as the liaison between the Board of Education and the internal work groups responsible for calendar development.
The Board voted to postpone pre vs. post Labor Day voting to their November 23rd meeting, when they can view these updated calendar proposals. Duque himself agreed that preemptive approval of either calendar would make him “uncomfortable.”
In his bimonthly report to the board, Mr. Thomas initiated discussion about academic calendars as vessels for increased inclusion. He claimed that the pre vs. post-Labor Day discussion lacks dimension and regard for students.
Students, he posited, aren’t concerned about how their calendar, say, impacts Ocean City tourism. “What’s really important is addressing our faith-based holidays, and promising to recognize our students that aren’t only of Jewish and Christian faith,” he remarked.
In the 2021-22 calendar, BCPS students receive days off for Christmas, Easter, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur. On the latter two, Jewish holidays, staff remain in office for Professional Development. Hindu and Muslim holidays are not recognized, nor is the Lunar New Year, despite a 7% Asian American enrollment rate in county schools.
After concluding their calendar discussion, the Board amended internal policies related to Chair and Vice Chair elections, approved a plan to add bonuses and pay raises for county employees, including bus drivers, and heard a report about college and career readiness and Advanced Placement exams from county researchers.
The Board also approved administrative appointments and infrastructure-related contracts to be implemented throughout the county.
During its regular public comment forum, the Board heard from 12 students, parents, and other stakeholders about Covid-19 management concerns, the staffing crisis and mental health of BCPS employees, and ensuring inclusion in calendars and curriculum.
The next meeting of the Baltimore County Board of Education will be held on November 23, where the Board will vote on a calendar for the 2022-23 school year. Official meeting minutes and recording can be found on the Board’s BoardDocs dashboard.