Like many kids who grew up in Baltimore County, I was always intrigued/jealous of “The Hereford Zone.” Like Middle Earth, it seemed to be a mythical place where there was always more extreme weather than farther south in the county, leading to many more school closings. An inch of snow on the ground in Owings Mills and school is open on time? Well, there is 18 inches and ice in The Hereford Zone and school is closed until at least the middle of April.
Yes, The Hereford Zone was special, and now I know one of the reasons why — Hereford High School uses what is known as a “4×4 block schedule,” meaning students take four classes each day rather than the usual seven or eight.
But Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance wants all high schools to go to the seven- or eight-period school day next year. This has caused a storm of a different kind in northern Baltimore County, where a Change.org petition to keep the 4×4 schedule has more than 1,700 signatures.
On Monday, opponents to the change filed a formal appeal to the Baltimore County Board of Education. Among the plaintiffs is Hereford Works LLC, which represents “the interests of students, parents and taxpayers” in the Hereford High School district, according to the petition.
“The 4×4 Block Schedule has been the cornerstone of HHS’ academic accomplishments for the last twenty-two years,” the petition states. “…Despite the astounding success of the 4×4 Block Schedule, in his March 21, 2014 final decision to implement a non-semesterized block schedule at Hereford High School, Dr. Dance has now arbitrarily and capriciously changed this scheduling system with little meaningful study and without any parental involvement.”
Should the board not outright overturn Dance’s decision, the petitioners request the 4×4 schedule be kept in place for at least three years to study its merits compared to the more traditional high school schedule.
The petitioners are being represented pro bono by The Law Offices of Spence & Associates P.C. in Towson.