BOE approves post Labor Day school start
CAMBRIDGE — The Dorchester County Board of Education accepted a proposed 2017-2018 school calendar option with a start date after Labor Day.
At the Thursday, Dec. 15, regular meeting, District 3 board representative Philip Rice made a motion to begin school after Labor Day, which was seconded by District 2 representative Glen Payne, and approved by a unanimous vote.
The board wished to be clear that their decision was not due to the executive order handed down by Governor Larry Hogan in August. The option of a post-Labor Day start was discussed among the board prior to the executive order, and they consider their decision to have been made autonomously.
The proposed calendar will be
posted on the Dorchester County Public Schools website, www.dcps.k12.md. us, and at the Central Office, 700 Glasgow Street, for the public to consider and comment.
A post-Labor Day start for students was achieved mainly by arranging professional development days at the beginning of the school year and the use of half-days for parent-teacher conferences. Holiday breaks for students and teachers were not shortened.
Under the proposed calendar, new teachers will begin on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, returning teachers will begin on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, and student start dates will be staggered from Tuesday, Sept. 5, through Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017.
School would end for students on Wednesday, June 13, 2018, and work for teachers would end the following day. Five snow days are built in to the calendar, and would be subtracted from the final number of days if not used.
A total of 193 work days for teachers and 185 days for students is planned.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Henr y V. Wagner suggested to the board that they consider the decision to start school before or after Labor Day as a conversation to be had each year. He said that, statistically, where Labor Day falls for the 2017-2018 school year made the task of crafting a calendar easier.
Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot held a press conference on the Ocean City Boardwalk on Wednesday, Aug. 31, to announce an executive order that would require all public schools in Maryland to begin classes after Labor Day and end by June 15 each year.
“Comptroller Franchot and I believe, and the people of Maryland strongly agree, that this action puts the best interest of Marylanders first, especially the well-being of our students,” Hogan said. “Most people agree that this is long overdue and that it is simply the right thing to do.”
Schools are still required to schedule 180 instructional days for students. Hogan said that counties will be able to apply for a waiver of the 180-day rule in the event of too many snow days. Sport schedules also will remain the same, giving student athletes more time to practice before the season begins.
The executive order allows individual school systems to apply for a waiver of the post-Labor Day start requirement if they are able to provide compelling justification. School systems will have to apply for this waiver annually. Furthermore, the State Department of Education will establish procedures and standards for school districts and individual schools seeking special waivers to accommodate non-traditional schedules.
Dorchester County Public Schools does meet the necessary criteria needed to apply for the waiver, but board members instead elected to begin school after Labor Day.
Franchot introduced his “Let Summer Be Summer” initiative more than two years ago with a petition in support of the change and a non-partisan legislative task force to investigate the possible impacts of such a change. The online petition has nearly 25,000 signatures to date, more than 10,000 of which were gained in the last month alone. Gov. Hogan also signed the petition.
Two independent polls conducted by Goucher College found that 71 percent of Mar ylanders support a post-Labor Day start.
The Bureau of Revenue Estimates has said starting the school year after Labor Day could provide $74.3 million in direct economic activity, $3.7 million in new wages, and $7.7 million in state and local tax revenues by pushing back the school start date and giving families more time for things like vacation.