As several school districts across the Baltimore area and through Maryland opened for the first day of school Monday, Comptroller Peter Franchot renewed his call for the state to delay the start of future school years until after Labor Day.
"Sending kids back to school during the hot and humid days of August just doesn't make sense to me – or to an overwhelming majority of Marylanders that support starting the state's public schools after the Labor Day holiday," Franchot said in a statement.
This year, Labor Day falls on Sept. 7. Locally, Baltimore County, Howard County and much of Anne Arundel County are starting their school years today, Aug. 24, two weeks in advance of Labor Day. Harford County opens this Thursday, Aug. 27, and Baltimore City and Carroll County will start Aug. 31.
Franchot noted that by Aug. 31, students from all but one of Maryland's 24 public school systems will return to the classroom. Worcester County is the only Maryland district with a post-Labor Day start.
Last year Franchot led the charge to gather signatures for a petition dubbed, "Let Summer Be Summer," that call for the state to implement a system-wide policy to delay the start of the school year until Labor Day.
"Very rarely does an issue make so much sense that it crosses all demographic, geographic and partisan lines like this one does, as evidenced by Gov. Larry Hogan's support, along with the 13,240 Marylanders from every corner of the state who signed the 'Let Summer Be Summer' petition," Franchot said.
The petition was presented in January to the General Assembly, but no change was made during the assembly's 2015 session. Critics said because of the state's 180-day requirement for the school year, a high number of snow days would extend the year late into June or early July if school started after Labor Day.
The comptroller suggested in his statement that he would try again in the next session, saying, "I will put my full support behind legislation to make a sensible change to Maryland's public school calendars."
Franchot said starting the school year later would benefit tourism. He noted a 2013 study by Maryland's Bureau of Revenue Estimates, which he said determined a post-Labor Day school start could generate an additional $74.3 million in economic activity, including $3.7 million in new wages and $7.7 million in state and local revenue.