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Central Maryland school districts are split on whether to use their newfound flexibility to begin the academic year before or after Labor Day, with some counties still deciding when they want to welcome students back to class next year.

Carroll County education officials are considering three calendar proposals — two that start before Labor Day and one that starts after.

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Should they choose to start before, they’ll align themselves with Howard County, where students will return to school Aug. 25, almost two weeks before Labor Day.

On the other end of the spectrum is Baltimore County, where the school board voted to start its 2020-2021 academic year Sept. 8, one day after Labor Day. That move defied a school staff recommendation urging an Aug. 31 start date.

There’s a heightened focus this year on when the school year is set to begin. The Democratic-led Maryland General Assembly voted earlier this year to return authority over calendar decisions to local school systems, rolling back a 2016 executive order from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan that mandated a post-Labor Day school year start.

Hogan’s action led to heated debate: Supporters said the move helped boost tourism revenue, gave families more time together and resulted in fewer hot summer days spent for students in classrooms without air conditioning.

But opponents said they had to spend extra money on childcare because of the extended break and struggled to find camps or services for the first few days of September. Families also raised concerns about “summer learning loss,” in which students’ forget key academic skills during the long vacation.

Baltimore City officials were among the loudest in opposition to Hogan’s mandate.

The city’s school board will vote in December on a proposed calendar in which classes start Aug. 31 and end June 11.

The Anne Arundel board of education is looking at starting the same day and ending June 16.

Harford County’s school board is still considering calendar options, with a vote expected at its Dec. 16 meeting.

The board is soliciting public comment until Dec. 13 on a calendar proposal that starts classes Sept. 1, one week before Labor Day. Classes would end June 9, barring inclement weather.

Baltimore Sun Media staff members Taylor DeVille, Erika Butler, Jess Nocera, Catalina Righter, Brandi Bottalico and S. Wayne Carter contributed to this article.

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