Caro­line schools to start after La­bor Day

Times-Record - - Front Page - By ABBY AN­DREWS aan­drews@car­o­line­times­

DEN­TON — The Caro­line County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion ad­justed the fi­nal day of the cur­rent school year’s cal­en­dar and ap­proved next year’s at its meet­ing Tues­day, April 4.

The ap­proved 2017-2018 cal­en­dar meets the guide­lines set forth by Gov. Larry Ho­gan last year, re­quir­ing school sys­tems to hold off on

start­ing the year for stu­dents un­til after La­bor Day, and fin­ish the year by June 15, while get­ting in 180 in­struc­tional days and 190 work days for staff.

Stu­dents’ first day will be Tues­day, Sept. 5. If four builtin in­clement weather days are used, their last day will be Fri­day, June 15.

The 2017-18 cal­en­dar is not fi­nal­ized, said As­sis­tant Su­per­in­ten­dent for Ad­min­is­tra­tive Ser­vices Mil­ton Nagel, as con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions with teach­ers are con­tin­u­ing, but the last de­tail still in ques­tion will af­fect only the cal­en­dar for staff’, not stu­dents.

Con­sid­er­ing the com­ing school year’s cal­en­dar usu­ally is ap­proved and re­leased to the pub­lic by Fe­bru­ary, the board voted to ac­cept the cal­en­dar for stu­dents as it stands.

The cal­en­dar in­cludes three days off for Thanks­giv­ing; a win­ter break that be­gins with a half-day Wed­nes­day, Dec. 21, and con­tin­ues through Mon­day, Jan. 1; and a spring break that be­gins with a half­day Thurs­day, March 29, 2018, and con­tin­ues through Mon­day, April 2, 2018.

Grad­u­a­tion cer­e­monies will move to June in 2018; Colonel Richard­son High School’s is sched­uled for Wed­nes­day, June 6, and North Caro­line High School’s will be Thurs­day, June 7.

Su­per­in­ten­dent Dr. Pa­tri­cia Sae­lens said Christ­mas fall­ing on a Mon­day this year made it pos­si­ble to give stu­dents and staff a typ­i­cal win­ter break while work­ing within the new guide­lines, but it could be­come more dif­fi­cult when Christ­mas moves to­ward the mid­dle of the week in the com­ing years.

Sae­lens said the state leg­is­la­ture is con­sid­er­ing a bill that might lift the rule re­quir­ing schools to be closed for Pres­i­dents Day and the Mon­day after Easter, which would al­low more lee­way when plan­ning the cal­en­dar.

Nagel said the early end of the cur­rent school year, com­bined with the later start of the next one, will give stu­dents and staff one of the long­est sum­mer breaks in re­cent mem­ory.

Only two of the built-in four in­clement weather days in this year’s cal­en­dar were used, so the board voted to change the last day for stu­dents to Tues­day, June 6, a half day. Teach­ers’ last day is now Wed­nes­day, June 7.

Ho­gan signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der Wed­nes­day, Aug. 31, 2016, 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 that day to an­nounce the change.

“Fam­i­lies want more time to spend with each other, to make pre­cious mem­o­ries that will last a life­time,” Fran­chot said at last Au­gust’s press con­fer­ence. “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. 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.”

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. Ho­gan also signed the pe­ti­tion.

Two in­de­pen­dent polls con­ducted by Goucher Col­lege found 71 per­cent of Mary­lan­ders sup­port a post-La­bor Day start.

“I want to first of all be­gin by thank­ing my good friend, Comptroller Peter Fran­chot, for his lead­er­ship and his will­ing­ness to work to­gether with us on be­half of all of the peo­ple of Mary­land,” Ho­gan said at last Au­gust’s press con­fer­ence. “Comptroller Fran­chot has been a long­time, lead­ing ad­vo­cate of this idea of hav­ing Mary­land Pub­lic Schools start after La­bor Day as they al­ways did in the past.

“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. Most peo­ple agree that this is long over­due and that it is sim­ply the right thing to do.”

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