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Board of Education Seeks Input on School Calendar Policy
MCPS improves calendar communication tools and resources
The Montgomery County Board of Education has tentatively approved a new policy that will guide procedures to develop, adopt, and disseminate a school year calendar. The new policy comes as Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) has worked to improve communication about this important issue, including a new calendar tool and guidelines for respecting religious diversity.
Policy IDA—School Year Calendar is being posted for public comment until October 9, 2015 and will ensure that the MCPS calendar meets the educational and operational needs of the district and complies with all relevant state and federal laws.
“MCPS uses a thorough and collaborative process to develop the calendar each year and this new policy, generally, formalizes the work that is already being done in this area,” said Board of Education President Patricia B. O’Neill. “The school calendar has been a topic of much discussion over the past few years and it became clear to me and other Board members that this policy was needed to ensure understanding and transparency in the process.”
Among the items covered in the policy:
The public can learn more about the new policy and provide comments using an online comment form on the MCPS website. Comments on the policy also can be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to the Office of the Superintendent of Schools, 850 Hungerford Drive, Room 122, Rockville, Maryland 20850. All responses on the policy will be shared with the Board of Education and the interim superintendent of schools.
Guidelines for Respecting Religious Diversity
In August, MCPS released a new publication that answers many frequently asked questions about accommodations that allow students to observe and participate in religious holidays and traditions in school and during school-sponsored events.
The publication, Guidelines for Respecting Religious Diversity, was developed in partnership with members of the Montgomery County Executive’s Faith Working Group, which includes representatives from several different religious and cultural organizations.
“In discussions about the calendar, many people were unclear about our policies and protocols for allowing our students to participate in religious practices and celebrations during the school year,” Mrs. O’Neill said. “I am pleased that we could work with the faith community to develop this unique guide that provides clear answers and helpful information.”
For instance, the guidelines mirror Policy IDA in affirming that a student who misses school in order to celebrate a cultural or religious holiday will receive an excused absence and must be given a reasonable opportunity to make up any work that was missed.
The guidelines have been translated into eight languages—Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese—and can be downloaded from the MCPS website. Copies of the publication will be made available to families and staff through schools.
New Calendar Tool
Over the summer, MCPS developed and launched a new online calendar tool for parents, students, and staff.
The tool provides the school year calendar approved by the Board of Education, including days in which schools and/or offices are closed, early release days, and the first and last days of school. The new tool allows users to customize the calendar and add other important dates, including federal and state holidays; Board of Education meetings; religious and cultural days of commemoration; MCPS community events; and fine arts performances.
The customized calendar can be printed out or downloaded using iCal. See the new calendar tool on the MCPS website.
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