Revision to post-Labor Day start order could hurt chance at exemption

Gov. Larry Hogan revised his executive order on post-Labor Day starts, making harder for schools to opt out.

The option of getting out of a post-Labor Day start just got a bit harder for Maryland public schools systems.

Gov. Larry Hogan issued a second executive order Tuesday to make it more difficult for school systems in the state to avoid starting classes for students after Labor Day by seeking a waiver. The order was announced after the Maryland State Board of Education was offering waivers from Hogan's mandate and as many local school officials protested.


Superintendent Stephen Guthrie said Wednesday he's not sure yet whether Carroll County Public Schools will still be trying for a waiver. Guthrie has previously voiced concern about the order, saying the decision should be made at a local level.

At the end of August, Hogan, Comptroller Peter Franchot and other leaders announced from Ocean City's Boardwalk an executive order mandating schools can't start until after Labor Day and the school year can end no later than June 15.

In his new order Tuesday, Hogan said only schools that are charters, low-performing or at risk may apply for a waiver from the Maryland state school board, and only if they have an "innovative school schedule" that requires them to be open during the summer, The Baltimore Sun reported.

The order also said school districts may seek a waiver if they have been closed for bad weather for 10 days each in two of the past five school years.

There have been mixed reactions in Carroll County since the first executive order was announced. Many parents and students felt excited at the prospect of a longer summer, while some administrators weren't as thrilled.

CCPS will hold a public meeting to discuss the possibility of trying for a waiver, Guthrie said. CCPS staff are also checking to see if the system meets the new weather requirement. If the school system meets the requirements, it will then be up to the Board of Education to decide the next steps.

"The board will have the final say on whether we do or don't ask for a waiver," Guthrie said.

Guthrie still has concerns about a post-Labor Day start. Sports become a concern, he said, because teams will still start practicing at the beginning of August.

"We'd be playing games before school is actually in session," Guthrie said.

And for dually enrolled students, he said, it becomes a question of whether they will start school on the Carroll County Public Schools schedule, or Carroll Community College's schedule.

While the logistics of the calendar itself work for next year, and even for the 2018-19 school year, Guthrie said it gets tougher in the future, depending on when holidays fall and if it's an election year.

"The next several years become very difficult" without major reworking of the calendar, he said.

The Baltimore Sun reporters Liz Bowie and Carrie Wells contributed to this article.