Hogan mandates post-Labor Day school start
Sets up showdown with General Assembly
— Summer is about to get a little bit longer for Cecil County students if the governor has his way.
On Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Larry Hogan issued an executive order mandating that starting next school year, all school districts in Maryland must start school after Labor Day and end
school before June 15.
School systems must still be in session for 180 days as required by law but can apply to the Maryland State Department of Education for a waiver to start school earlier if they have “compelling justification.”
“Starting Maryland public schools after Labor Day is not just a family issue — it’s an economic and public safety issue that draws clear, strong, bipartisan support among an overwhelming majority of Marylanders,” Hogan said during a press conference in Ocean City. “Comptroller Franchot and I believe, and the people of Maryland strongly agree, that this Executive Order puts the best interests of Marylanders first, especially the well-being of our students. This action is long overdue, and it is simply the right thing to do.”
While the governor and comptroller may be on board with the plan, the Maryland General Assembly historically hasn’t, denying legislation to accomplish the goal
pre-school at Gilpin Manor Elementary School.
Meanwhile, Damien’s father, Steve Adkins Jr., said he was excited to see his son go off to school and even drove all the way from Carroll County to be there for the first day. Damien was initially excited about going to school for the first time, Steve said, but once it was time for him to leave his family he got more hesitant.
Just minutes after Damien first entered the school, he popped back out to get one last hug from his dad and grandparents.
“He talks a big game, but once he got here, he kind of clammed up,” Steve said with a laugh.
Tim and Lilly Blackburn had far fewer tears when they dropped off their daughter at pre-K. Their daughter had attended preschool at Gilpin Manor, making the first day of pre-K must easier, Tim said.
“She kind of feels like she’s a pro at this point,” he said.
Meanwhile, at Elk Neck Elementary School, first day of school drop-off was also a bittersweet experience for the students and their families.
Lauren Houston, who was dropping off her son Luke, 4, for his first day of pre-K, said the moment was more emotional than she first thought it would be.
“He’s a big kid now,” she said. “I didn’t think it would be a big deal, but it was.”
Luke has been looking forward to the first day since Wednesday and Houston said she’s eager to hear how it went.
“It was exciting seeing him all excited,” she said.
Kindergarten parents also felt excited about their child’s first day.
Megan and Russell Hawkins dropped off their daughter, Summer, 5, for her first day of kindergarten.
“I’m anxiously excited,” Megan said. “She’s my first going to school. This is the first and last time I’ll experience this, so it is bittersweet.”
Although, she may have felt anxious, there wasn’t much separation anxiety because Summer attended pre-K at the school last year. Parents brave the rain to drop their kids off for the first day of school at Gilpin Manor Elementary School.
Summer said she’s excited about everything, but in particular the bus rides. “A lot of friends will be on there,” she noted. Melinda Blailock said her son, Noah, 5, is starting his first day of kindergarten.
She said she’s sad, but excited for him to go to school.
“Of course you want to keep your kids close,” Blailock said. “He’ll come home with a lot of stories.”
But the parents and children weren’t the only ones excited about the first day of school.
Elk Neck Elementary Principal Karen Adair said this is an exciting moment for the parents, children and school system. For many of the parents, it’s their first time sending them to either grade, she noted.
“Their education begins now. We build the foundation for learning and their excitement for learning,” she said.
Teacher Meghan Handy said she’s also looking forward to starting the school year.
“We’re excited. They’re all ready to start learning,” she said. “And we know that we’re going to have a great year.”
Lauren Houston hugs her son, Luke, 4, before he started his first day of pre-K at Elk Neck Elementary School on Thursday.
Jax, Amanda and Chase Brownhill and Noah and Melinda Blailock wait for school to start at Elk Neck Elementary School on Thursday.