Next School Year To Begin After Labor Day

By Brandon Li and Matthew Sun

Governor Larry Hogan denied the waiver the that MCPS Board of Education (BOE) requested to start school before Labor Day, forcing MCPS to start the 2017-2018 school year after Labor Day.
In August, Hogan issued a mandate requiring all public schools in Maryland to start school after Labor Day. School districts were allowed to apply for a waiver to start school before Labor Day, but needed compelling justification to change the start date. After debating for weeks, MCPS agreed to comply with the mandate and plans to start the 2017-2018 school year on Tues., Sept. 5, 2017 and end no later than Fri., June 15, 2018.
“I think it is a poorly made decision that doesn’t truly reflect the wants and needs of our large and varied state,” sophomore Jerry Wang said. “It may remove holidays from the schedule, which may increase stress and unhappiness in students.”
In October, the BOE voted to apply for a waiver to start school before Labor Day. Shortly after the vote was finalized, Governor Hogan amended his mandate, adding more requirements in order for states to apply for a waiver. The requirements made it nearly impossible for school districts to apply for a waiver, including MCPS.
According to an Oct. 16 Washington Post article, Hogan only allowed a few charter schools and school districts who have closed school in the past for many days due to weather-related incidents to be eligible for a waiver.
A BOE meeting will be held in December to vote on the final calendar plan.
According to an Oct. 10 Washington Post article, the BOE backed a 2017-2018 calendar that started school before Labor Day, which kept spring break intact, built in additional snow days and ended school on June 14, 2018.
Supporters of the later start date claim starting school after Labor Day could boost Maryland’s economy, specifically in the tourism industry. In addition, the state could supposedly save energy costs since August is the second hottest month. With an extended summer vacation, families can spend more time together.
However, all Maryland schools are required to have 180 instructional days a year. In order to comply with the new mandate, schools will have to change their calendars. Breaks may have to be shortened, and some holidays might have to be removed from the calendar, such as Muslim and Jewish holidays that MCPS allocated as days off for earlier in the year.
“If MCPS changed the Muslim holidays, they would have to change all of [the] other religious holidays,” principal Joan Benz said. “If that happens, it will become much larger than just the start time of the school year.”
Furthermore, teachers are concerned about preparing students for tests due to time constraints created by this schedule. AP test dates and school start dates are not correlated, meaning those test dates will not change even with a shortened school year.