Worcester County Public Schools handled the inclement weather perfectly this week. Schools were closed two hours early on Wednesday as a precaution and opened two hours late on Thursday. Like many, I was surprised there was school on Thursday following the snowfall the night before, but it turned out to be the right call. The roads were fine.
If Worcester had missed school Thursday, it would have essentially negated the decision earlier in the week to add a half day of school on April 9, a previously designated full professional day for teachers. That half day put the county back on schedule for its June 15 last day. If school was canceled, the county would have likely needed to add another half day to a planned professional day on March 29 or knock a day off spring break. These decisions are forced by the state which is requiring all schools be done by June 15.
School systems can apply for waivers from the State Department of Education, but none have been approved yet this year. With several school systems exceeding their budgeted school closure day in their calendars, waivers will be sought, and it will be interesting to see if the school board sets a precedent with any particular requests. For what it’s worth, Gov. Larry Hogan, who spearheaded an effort to start school after Labor Day and end no later than June 15, has no say in these waiver requests.
Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot went on a tirade online after his craft beer legislation failed to make it out of committee last week. Franchot, who I expect to run for governor in four years, has been championing legislation to repeal a requirement that craft brewers purchase their own beer from distributors if they exceed the 2,000-barrel limit on taproom sales.
While the bill received a lot of publicity and online support through the Shore Craft Beer website, the legislation never truly stood a chance. It was squarely in the sights of the alcohol distribution industry, which wanted to doom it from the start. In a Facebook post, which was essentially a tirade, Franchot acknowledged the uphill battle he and supporters faced with his Reform On Tap legislation.
“It was more business as usual in Annapolis — the corporate beer lobbyists did their job and got their money’s worth. Meanwhile, our independent craft brewers — who are creating thousands of local jobs, strengthening local economies and rebuilding local communities across Maryland — have once again received the message that our state’s leaders are fundamentally hostile to their chosen line of work,” Franchot wrote. “Rest assured that this is merely the beginning of the fight to save Maryland’s amazing craft beer industry. I’m quite familiar with the power the corporate beer monopoly wields in the halls of Annapolis, and we knew from the start that this would be a long and difficult battle. I look forward to taking this issue into every contested primary and general election in our state this year — into every county, district and precinct. And I look forward to coming back to Annapolis in 2019 and making the case for good beer, good jobs and good times in the State we love.”
The thing about school safety that’s so disturbing is there will never be enough measures taken to guarantee our kids, teachers and administrators will always be okay. The same can be said for driving in automobiles, riding bikes and visiting playgrounds. The thing is there is risk involved in everything we do.
What’s different now is that school safety was never thought of the way it is today. Two decades ago, most safety concerns had to do with bullying and fights. The concerns of today played out in St. Mary’s County this week. It appears young love was the culprit for the violence, but many lives have been changed forever as a result. Fortunately, in this case, a school resource officer did exactly what he was charged to do. He protected the students and used deadly force to do so. He did what I would want done if I were a parent of a student at that school.
While it’s understandable to be worried about school safety and the seemingly impossible task of ensuring gun violence doesn’t enter our local schools, what we should all embrace is every single effort – whether it’s funding, a meeting, brainstorming session or casual conversation — being made to keep our schools safe. It was great to hear Stephen Decatur High School students requested a forum with school leadership to discuss their ideas on how to enhance school safety. The students’ ideas included making school safety a talking point more often in their hallways, including at freshman orientations and parent conferences. It’s encouraging to hear teenage students talking about these real-life issues in mature ways.
Additionally, at Ocean City Elementary School this week, a new and laudable security plan was put in place Monday morning. Parents are no longer walking their young children to their classrooms. In some cases, they can but not without being screened first at the front office. The idea is it’s unsettling for school officials to have more than 100 parents (or guardians or whoever) walking the halls in the early morning.
It’s a necessary precautionary measure that came about after internally reviewing best practices. While change may not always be easy to accept, it’s important to look at everything in a fresh perspective today. If that means major changes to enhance safety, then it’s a good thing.