Gov. man­dates later school start

Classes won’t be­gin un­til af­ter La­bor Day

Record Observer - - Front Page - By VIC­TO­RIA WIN­GATE vwingate@ches­pub.com

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.”

PHOTO BY VIC­TO­RIA WIN­GATE

Mary­land stu­dents hold a sign in sup­port of be­gin­ning the school year af­ter La­bor Day.

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