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Students and their families should learn tonight whether school will start after Labor Day again next year.

Having accepted input from the public for the past two months, the Board of Education is expected to vote on the 2020-21 Carroll County Public Schools calendar at its monthly meeting, which begins at 5 p.m. in the Charles I. Ecker Boardroom at the Board of Education offices in Westminster.

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Tonight’s agenda lists “Approval of the 2020-2021 School Calendar” as the seventh action item. The Board of Education recommended a calendar which includes a post-Labor Day start during its September meeting. The public was given 60 days to comment on that calendar leading up to tonight’s expected vote.

If approved, this would mark the fourth consecutive year with the first day of school in Carroll County coming after Labor Day. Previously, CCPS had begun school in August, starting Aug. 24 in 2015 and Aug. 29 in 2016.

Neighboring counties have been split on when to start. Howard County’s first day of school will be Aug. 25, almost two weeks before Labor Day. The Baltimore County school board voted this week to start Sept. 8, one day after Labor Day, even though school staff had recommended starting Aug. 31.

In 2016, Gov. Larry Hogan mandated a post-Labor Day school year start via executive order in an effort to boost summer tourism revenue in the state. But the Maryland General Assembly voted in March to return authority over calendar decisions to local school systems.

Reacting to that, Carroll County formed a school calendar committee composed of parents, employees, community members, Community Advisory Council members, and employee bargaining group representatives. That committee was tasked with recommending a calendar and as part of its process sent out a survey seeking community input, receiving nearly 10,000 responses.

Based on that input and further discussion, the committee brought three possible calendars to the Board of Education meeting in September with one calendar beginning two weeks before Labor Day, one the week before Labor Day and one the day after Labor Day in 2020. The Board chose to further modify the third calendar and solicit public comment for 60 days with plans to vote on it Nov. 13.

In this calendar, the first student school day is proposed to be Sept. 8, 2020. Winter Break is proposed to begin Dec. 23 with students returning Jan. 4, 2021. Spring Break, including the state-mandated Easter holiday, is proposed to run April 2 through April 5. The last day of school for students would be Friday, June 18, though that could change due to emergency closure days. The Board and superintendent also approved a regulation to reduce the number of early dismissal days from eight to six.

The committee’s survey results showed that nearly 53% of respondents preferred to always start after Labor Day. About 23% preferred to always start prior. The rest wished to decide year-to year depending on how late in the year Labor Day falls.

Constraints for the committee included the 180 school days for students mandated by state law as well as the 193 days for 10-month employees and 240 for 12-month employees.

Baltimore Sun Media staffer Taylor DeVille contributed to this story.

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