Debate over post-Labor Day school start reignites in Md. General Assembly

The new Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook for Fairfax County Public Schools, which was approved by the board on Thursday, includes more than two dozen changes meant to standardize the way discipline is handed down in the school system. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/Jaroslav Frank)

WASHINGTON — The debate over whether schools should be forced to carry their summer break through Labor Day was reignited in the Maryland General Assembly this week.

A state Senate committee heard testimony on a bill that would effectively repeal Gov. Larry Hogan’s order that requires all public schools to start the year after Labor Day and end by June 15.

“Each school system is very, very different from each other,” said Sen. Nancy King, D-Montgomery, a supporter of repealing the order. “They need to make those decisions for themselves on the calendar.”

Under the bill, Maryland’s 24 individual school boards would be in charge of their own start and end dates.

“School policy should not be a political football,” said Sen. Paul Pinsky, D- Prince George’s, another supporter of the repeal effort.

Hogan announced his order in 2016, saying it would benefit families, businesses and Maryland’s tourism industry.

Some school systems, including Montgomery County, complained about a lack of flexibility.

But the governor’s office has repeatedly dismissed those concerns as disingenuous, saying “most jurisdictions have managed to adopt a common-sense calendar that prioritizes what students and families want.”

Opponents of the repeal effort spoke out during Wednesday’s committee hearing.

“Please do not put an end to an initiative that is just beginning to benefit tourism and families,” said Julianna Brightman, who represents the Maryland Hotel Lodging Association. “We believe that in the coming years it could continue to benefit Maryland.”

Members of the Hogan administration have already publicly opposed the legislation.

“Governor Hogan’s School After Labor Day initiative is good for small businesses, good for our state’s economy and is supported by more than 70 percent of Marylanders,” said state Comptroller Peter Franchot in a statement.

Franchot said the repeal bill would “allow our local school boards to send children back into the classroom in the dog days of August.”

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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