MCPS determines 2023-24 school year calendar


Hannah Lee

Starting in the 2023-24 school year, MCPS will have “professional development and instruction” days in which teachers participate in learning activities while students still attend class.

Isabel Skinner and Hannah Lee

At its Dec. 6 meeting, the Montgomery County Board of Education (BOE) approved a recommended 2023-2024 academic calendar. According to Bethesda Magazine, Superintendent of Schools Monifa B. McKnight’s main goals were to “maximiz[e] uninterrupted learning time,” “decreas[e] number of early release days,” “improv[e] math and literacy skills” and “increas[e] staff professional development opportunities.” It incorporated recommendations from the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future legislation and the recent countywide Antiracist System Audit. 

The BOE had received four potential calendar scenarios for the 2023-2024 school year, created by the Board’s Policy Management Committee. These four scenarios were sent out in a survey to parents, guardians, students, MCPS employees and other community members. All scenarios follow state law that require schools to be closed on the following dates: Labor Day, Thanksgiving and the day after, Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day, the Friday before Easter and the Monday after Easter and Memorial Day. 

In the chosen scenario, the school year will start on Monday, Aug. 28 and end on Thursday, June 13, 2024. District-wide no-school professional days will fall on Monday, Oct. 9, Friday, Feb. 16, 2024 and Monday, April 22, 2024, which aligns with Passover. This calendar also adds new “professional development and instruction” days, in which teachers participate in learning activities while students still attend class. These will fall on Nov. 10, Feb. 15, 2024 and May 15, 2024. According to WUSA9, students will also be provided with outside-of-class internship opportunities and other community programs on these days. 

Students have mixed feelings about which days are off. “I think it depends on when the day is, you know? Getting a Monday off is better than getting another day off. If it were a Tuesday, it’d be weird to come back on a Wednesday,” senior Hannah Clopper said.

To students, breaks are of most concern. “I feel like I’m not very aware of the school calendar,” senior Daniel Coxson said. “In general I prefer many short breaks over one long break.” Next year’s calendar will extend winter break by one day, starting on Saturday, Dec. 23 and ending on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024, so that students get a total of eleven days off.

Currently, winter break is one week and one day long. “A week and a day? Wow, that’s like nothing. I don’t have much against it,” Coxson said, regarding the added day. 

“I think it should be two weeks, personally,” senior Arun Crispino said. 

The timing of winter break can also affect vacation plans. Freshman Katy Walsh said, “I feel like when people only have a day before Christmas Eve to travel, a lot of people miss school. Starting early will just help be more beneficial and fix that problem.”

Last year, the 2021-2022 school year calendar was amended: it was reduced by two days and there was an extra half day on an original professional day to meet the minimum required instructional days. It was again amended when McKnight modified the calendar to make the Wednesday of Thanksgiving break a holiday for all students and staff. 

Not all MCPS families prefer seeing changes in the school calendar. “Even my parents were telling me that like they get like annoyed at how much we keep changing everything because they never know when things are going to happen,” freshman Ashna Verma said. 

The 2023-24 calendar was passed by unanimous vote and the next BOE meeting will be held on Jan. 12.