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Dec. 11, 2008

School canceled for Inauguration Day

by Lauren Kestner, Online News and Copy Editor
The Montgomery County Board of Education (BOE) voted unanimously on Tuesday to close county schools on Jan. 20, 2009 for the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama. The resolution, introduced by board member Christopher Barclay on Nov. 18, designates all future presidential inaugurations official school holidays.

The eight board members passed the resolution in response to thousands of requests from teachers, parents and students to cancel school for the historic inauguration. "It became clear that students and staff wanted to take part in the ceremonies, to go out on the mall or spend time with their families," Barclay said. Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) joins the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) and Prince George's, St. Mary's, Charles, Fairfax, Arlington and Loudoun County Public Schools in canceling classes on Jan. 20.
<i> Picture courtesy of The Washington Post. </i>
Picture courtesy of The Washington Post.


The cancellation will require county officials to alter first semester exam schedules. Blair administrators are waiting for instructions from the BOE before they announce the new exam schedule, according to administrative secretary Cherrie Avery.

MCPS Superintendent Jerry Weast recommended that schools remain open on Inauguration Day in a Nov. 15 memorandum to the BOE. Weast expressed his concern that school cancellations would impose a large financial burden on the county. "Should we use one of the four contingency plans for Jan. 20, 2009, and need more than three days for weather-related closings this winter, the day would need to be made up, resulting in a cost of approximately $600,000," he wrote in the memorandum. Weast was also opposed to closing schools on the grounds that childcare would be difficult to obtain for many students and cancellations would have a negative impact on the 36,000 students who rely on free and reduced-price meals provided by MCPS.

Board members discussed the concerns raised in Weast's memorandum and are working on details, according to Barclay. "We still have to decide what members of our staff will be paid and who will not be paid - logistical issues," he said.

Financial concerns notwithstanding, Barclay believes the BOE made the right decision. "It was a unanimous vote. All of us thought it was important to honor this historic event," he said.

Students and parents had been vocal in their support of a cancellation by signing online petitions and sending emails urging board members to cancel school in honor of the inauguration. Walter Johnson High School junior Laura Epstein authored an online petition that accumulated nearly 3,500 signatures in the hopes of swaying the board. "The petition shows them how many students and teachers are really excited about the inauguration," she said.

Barclay believes that students will benefit from having the day off on future inaugurations. "When the first female president is elected, students will be able to see it," he said.




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  • chloe (View Email) on December 12, 2008 at 11:52 AM
    YES!!!
  • Jed on December 12, 2008 at 12:55 PM
    Why haven't they done this for the inagurations of other presidents?
  • Re: Jed on December 13, 2008 at 2:39 PM
    Good point, I guess just not enough interest in the past to effect the system dramatically.

    Inauguration Day should be a MCPS holiday, I mean it's a Federal Holiday....
  • Former Blair Teacher (View Email) on December 14, 2008 at 3:23 PM
    Let me guess.. if McCain had been elected they wouldn't push to take off on Inauguration day... This comes to show how ignorant this country is, its all about color... if MCPS had voted "NO" then maybe we probably had a lawsuit on our hands. This is just all about race... America will come to its end of power and I'd hate to sdee that happen because of ignorant, selfish things like this.
  • 09 on December 15, 2008 at 7:31 AM
    uh i dunno maybe because its the FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT
  • current blazer on December 16, 2008 at 4:56 AM
    I honestly don't understand how canceling school for inauguration is ignorant or selfish. Would you be willing to elaborate, please?

    It isn't just about the historical significance. Montgomery County is right next to DC, and the crowds and traffic are supposed to be monstrous. It might be hard for kids to even get to school on Inauguration day, especially the kids that take the metro buses to and from school (like myself).

    Also, whether you're an Obama supporter or not, you can't deny that this is an unprecedented and exciting (either good exciting or bad exciting) event.
  • dumb people hater on December 16, 2008 at 11:33 AM
    wow people are dumb. do they really think the majority of those kids who signed those petitions want to go to the inauguration? they just want to get out of school and the stupid people who would have started a lawsuit if the board hadnt passed the vote are a bunch of idiots who try to find every reason they can to say that white people are "oppressing" them. and i bet that if McCain had gotten elected you guys would still be in school that day. i hate dumb people.
  • uncurrent blazer on December 16, 2008 at 2:37 PM
    if McCain had been elected most of those people would be on their way to canada, you have to learn more about the cultural atmosphere of montgomery county to understand that a lot of those people that signed the petition really want to be at this inauguration, i'm delaying going back to college for a day to see it.
  • re:Former Blair Teacher on December 16, 2008 at 4:57 PM
    Sir or ma'am, the only person making this all about color is you.
  • fasdfsa on December 16, 2008 at 6:02 PM
    you are not too smart yourself
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