This communication should start with a reminder that issues related to the school calendar are not within the lawful scope of negotiations in the Maryland Public Schools. In fact, the school calendar is one of only two topics that are explicitly prohibited by statute. Therefore, the collective bargaining agreement shared by TAAAC and the Board contains no prescriptive language or guidance on the use of the two days between the semesters.
The current controversy is that the second semester is going to start on time whether schools are opened or closed tomorrow, leaving the possibility of teachers having one less non-student day to prepare for the start of a new semester.
TAAAC members should be aware of the following:
Closing school tomorrow for inclement weather and beginning the second semester on Wednesday is not contrary to the School Calendar as amended on May 7, 2014, which states:
If emergency closings fall on January testing days or the teacher workday, secondary schools will reschedule so that there are four consecutive testing days followed by one teacher workday. This scheduling affects all schools.
The communication from the central office “encourages” teachers to take work home, an implication (unintended) that teachers will need to prepare for Wednesday on their own unpaid time. Under normal circumstances the suggestion would have been met with grievances contending a work week violation and a remedy involving salary. In this event, however, tomorrow will be considered one of our negotiated 191 (or 193, 195, 200, and 210) paid work days.
While the situation is not desirable at all, at the moment of this correspondence there is no situation ripe for appeal or grievance. However, if schools are closed tomorrow and if students return on Wednesday there is likely to be resulting situations that cause violations of negotiated terms and conditions of employment. Any member who knows, believes, or suspects they are in such a situation should contact TAAAC for guidance and assistance in taking the appropriate action.
The current Negotiated Agreement can be reviewed HERE.