Gov. mandates later school start
Classes won’t begin until after Labor Day
OCEAN CITY — Gov. Larry Hogan signed an executive order Wednesday, Aug. 31, requiring all Maryland public schools to begin classes after Labor Day.
Comptroller Peter Franchot and Hogan held a press conference on the Ocean City Boardwalk to announce the change.
“School after Labor Day is now the law of the land in Maryland,” Hogan said after signing the executive order.
“The executive order will require Maryland public schools to start classes after Labor Day, and will also
require them to end their school year by June 15,” Hogan said. “This new policy will begin next year with the start of the 20172018 school year.”
Schools will still be required to schedule 180 instructional days for students. Hogan said that counties will still 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.
“Families want more time to spend with each other, to make precious memories that will last a lifetime,” Franchot said. “They want the chance to enjoy those final days of summer the way they were meant to be enjoyed. Whether it’s taking that final vacation at the beach, or the lake, visiting the Inner Harbor, or catching an O’s game, enjoying an evening at the Maryland State Fair, or just relaxing a bit at home.
“We need to start school after Labor Day for our superb and dedicated teachers who work so hard during the school year,” he said. “We need to give them the break that they have earned and deserve. Teachers too need more time to recharge, have more quality time with their families, and for many of them the chance to put more money in their pockets through seasonal jobs that provide supplemental income.”
In addition to more vacation opportunity, Franchot said some 10,000 kids across the state that participate in 4-H organizations will have the chance to compete in county fairs and the Maryland State Fair without the conflict of school starting at the end of August.
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 Marylanders support a post-Labor Day start.
“Comptroller Franchot and I believe, and the people of Mar yland 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.”
The task force of teachers, administrators, school board members, PTA members, and other public stakeholders voted 12-3 in favor of the post-Labor Day start as months of examination and analysis “determined that there was no compelling evidence that showed there was any impact on education starting post-Labor Day.”
“They concluded that a later start date would have no negative impact on our education system,” Franchot said. “Simply put, this sensible, common-sense change to Maryland’s public school calendar will generate millions of dollars in additional wages for our middle-class workforce and millions more in revenue that fund important programs like education, environmental protection, and public safety.”
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.
The study also found that 8.5 percent of families with school age children would take either a new day trip or a new overnight trip to one of Maryland’s three top destinations — Baltimore City, Deep Creek Lake or Ocean City, according to the comptroller’s office, which said another 5.2 percent would take a new out-of-state day or overnight trip, and the remaining families would devote at least one more day to a family recreational activity close to home.
After the press conference, the Mar yland State Education Association, the state teachers union, released a statement opposing Hogan’s executive order.
“When it comes to our public schools, there’s one word that Gov. Hogan thinks of: cuts,” said Sean Johnson, director of government relations for MSEA. “Cuts to school funding, cuts to the school year — he prioritizes cuts over developing real, detailed strategies to reduce over-testing, close achievement gaps, and expand proven reforms like pre-kindergarten, afterschool programs, and community schools.
“Forcing all schools to begin after Labor Day won’t help students do better — and research shows that it can worsen summer brain drain among students from poor socioeconomic backgrounds,” Johnson said.
He suggested Hogan turn his attention to “addressing the 47 percent teacher turnover rate within their first three years in the profession, the over-testing that takes away hours of instruction every year, and how we can better support the 45 percent of Maryland students who are low-income with proven reforms like expanding preK, after-school programs, and community schools.”
Maryland students hold a sign in support of beginning the school year after Labor Day.