Caroline schools to start after Labor Day
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.”