Some school systems have expressed opposition.
Frederick, Md. (KM) A number of school systems around the state have expressed opposition to Governor Larry Hogan’s executive order mandating that classes start after Labor Day, and end by June 15th. But Comptroller Peter Franchot, who has been pushing for this change for years, is defending it.
Critics have said that the Governor’s executive order was “overreaching,” and this proposal to change the school calendar should have gone to the General Assembly, where lawmakers could debate it. “I have been a supporter of it for many years,” says Franchot. “I took it to the Legislature year after year, trying to get them to consider it. And they, using their discretion, told me to go jump in the lake.”
The executive order, issued in August, requires that all public schools in Maryland start classes the day after Labor Day, and end the school year on June 15th beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year. At the time, the Governor said it would be good for the state’s businesses, families and the environment because schools would not use as much air conditioning like they do when by starting in August.
Many school systems are starting classes in August weeks before Labor Day. They say they’ve negotiated contracts with their teachers unions which gives members several work days throughout the academic year, giving teachers time to do their paper work and other administrative duties, and not have to teach classes.
“Well, they can still have that as long as they still have 180 academic days between the day after Labor Day and June 15th,” Franchot responded.
In addition, some school systems, including Frederick County, have closed schools on the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the first day of Passover, just like they do for Christmas and other Christian and secular holidays. “It is something that the local school boards have complete control over. As long as they start after Labor Day and get out by June 15th, they can do anything they want,” he says. “They can collectively bargain for half days off, or full days off, or whatever they want to do as long as they get the 180 academic days in.”
A number of school districts say this rule could mean shorter spring breaks, which usually occur around Easter, especially if they have to make up snow days. “It might be, if that’s the decision of the local school board,” replies Franchot. “It’s not what I would urge. I would urge them tightening up the days off that just arrive out of the blue sky, ad hoc way.”
Waivers are available for school systems which believe cannot meet these new requirements. Frederick County Board of Education has decided not to apply for a waiver.
By Kevin McManus