Next Carroll school year will still start after Labor Day despite rejection of Hogan rule, official says

School systems around Maryland are regaining the flexibility to start their calendars before Labor Day, but a Carroll County school official says that won’t affect the coming school year locally.

The Democratic-led General Assembly passed legislation to allow local school districts to decide when their academic years should start. Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed that bill, along with some others, on Wednesday.


But lawmakers passed that legislation with a veto-proof margin, and voted 93-43 on Friday to override Hogan’s veto. That nullifies his 2016 executive order that the public school year in Maryland must start after Labor Day and end classes by June 15.

Regardless of that development, a spokesperson for Superintendent Steve Lockard said he does not plan to change the calendar for the 2019-20 school year.

“There could be changes to the end of the calendar later next year because we only have 3 days built in for snow,” according to a statement from the superintendent. “Parents should be aware that this is a possibility and avoid planning vacations for the week of June 15.”

The statement did not address whether future school years would continue to start after Labor Day.

Teresa B. McCulloh, president of the Carroll County Education Association, said the teachers union believes that the decision of when to start the school year should be made on a local level.

Carroll schools have used six inclement weather days so far this school year, Brenda Bowers, a spokesperson for the school system, said in an email. The school system allocated four inclement weather days for the 2018-19 school calendar, but the Carroll County Board of Education voted in February to add five days to the academic year.

As of Friday, the planned last day for students is Tuesday, June 18, Bowers said.

Many school districts in Maryland said the restrictions originally imposed by Hogan made it difficult for them to squeeze in religious holidays, teacher workdays and unexpected snow days. Parents and educators grew frustrated with a lack of flexibility to tailor their calendars to the needs of their districts.

But Hogan, a Republican, has remained adamant that requiring school start after Labor Day was among his most popular decisions. The move was seen as a way to boost tourism in Ocean City and keep city children out of un-air-conditioned classrooms during some of the year’s hottest days.

The Senate approved the veto override Thursday. Sen. Paul Pinsky, a Prince George’s County Democrat, termed the governor’s order a “fiat written in stone” that was more focused on helping tourism than students.

In a letter sent to legislative leadership this week, Hogan said he vetoed the bill because it “runs directly counter to an action favored by the vast majority of Marylanders.”

In Facebook messages to the Times, Carroll County residents expressed mixed opinions Friday on whether the school year ought to start after Labor Day. Some appreciation was voiced for Hogan’s order.

“As a parent with kids in 4-H I like that they start after Labor Day!” said Jennifer Gawel, club leader for the Pleasant Valley 4-H Club. “State fair is at the end of August and most of the kids that show animals are missing the first few days of school when it starts before Labor Day!”

Others, however, wanted more school time in August.


“I'm a mother of three and I personally do not care when they start school ... I actually wish they started earlier in August that way they get out earlier in June or end of May,” said Bethany Reiter, of Taneytown. ““To me what's more important is education they should just plan vacations around school plain and simple.”

“I know that my family and several we speak with would much rather have the school week start earlier and get back a ‘real’ Spring Break,” said Josh Gold, a Westminster resident with children in the school system. No spring break was scheduled in the current school year, though schools are closed April 19 and 22 for the Easter weekend.

Lindsay Jensen, a Westminster mother of a Carroll second-grader, said, “I don't see how it matters much if school starts before or after Labor Day. They still have to get in 180 school days and if school starts after Labor Day, they end up going past June 15th anyway with the number of snowdays each year.”

Hogan’s executive order was seen as a way to boost tourism at Ocean City and proved popular with Marylanders. A Goucher College poll right after Hogan signed the order found 68 percent support for starting school after Labor Day.

But as school districts wrestled with how to fit in 180 days worth of classes, holidays and teacher workdays, some parents and educators grew frustrated. A poll this month from Gonzales Research & Media Services found 56 percent of respondents supported starting school after Labor Day, and 40 percent supported allowing local school districts to make the decision of when to start.

Count Andy Smith, of Westminster, among the 40 percent.

“The date school starts, ends, and how many days we go should all be locally controlled,” said Smith, who has kids in three schools in Carroll schools. “We don’t need the feds or states making up new bureaucratic dates or lengths of school year. We are capable of handling it all at the local level.”

The Baltimore Sun contributed reporting for this article.