Election Change Brings Longer Spring Break

SNOW HILL — A change in date for next year’s Presidential Primary Election will have a ripple effect on Worcester County’s school calendar.

Though traditionally held the second Tuesday in February, a recent bill passed by the Senate has moved the election to the first Tuesday in April. This change would be disruptive for students, as county schools are used as polling sites and thus cannot have classes in attendance during the primary. In order to even out the schedule, school officials decided to also allow students off the Monday before elections. Since spring break starts that Wednesday, this works out to a full-week long break, an unusual occurrence in Worcester County.

“We added an extra day to the Spring Break in order to avoid requiring students to come to school for only one day during the week …,” said Superintendent Dr. Jon Andes. “Parents have long requested a full-week for Spring Break, and due to the General Assembly’s election-day change, it offers an opportunity to provide it.”

Andes added that the extra day off would have to be tacked onto the end of the school-year calendar, making the last day of classes June 13 unless the standard three inclement weather days are not used, in which case the last day of school will be June 8.

“It is highly unusual for an approved school calendar to be modified,” said Barbara Witherow, coordinator of public relations and special programs for county schools.

Witherow facilitates calendar development every year and presented the revised schedule to the Board of Education  last week. “In this case, the State passed a regulation associated with elections after our 2011-2012 calendar had already been approved,” she said.

Witherow explained that a new calendar is formed every November with the help of 14 parents, three teachers, three students, three administrators, and one bus transportation representative.

“Next year, the calendar committee will start the process anew, with a fresh slate,” said Witherow. “The best part of the process is that our Board of Education believes that our stakeholders — particularly our parents — should have input into the development of a school calendar, since it will impact their families the most.”

Witherow stressed the level of parental involvement, explaining that the stakeholders are formed into three sub-committees, each responsible for drafting a proposed calendar. All three proposals then make their way to the superintendent and the board, which can then either approve one calendar or combine them to form a new schedule.