It has been a polarizing and divisive issue with both sides making passionate arguments for and against. Impeachment? Hardly. We are, of course, referring to the big decision about whether the school year should start before or after Labor Day in Carroll County.

We don’t mean to make light because it is important to families. But in terms of educational issues, there would seem to be numerous topics — from curriculum to bullying to standardized testing to safety to special education to student-teacher ratio to facilities to funding in general — more critical to parents. But you wouldn’t know it from the response to Carroll County Public Schools deciding on its 2020-21 calendar.


A committee formed to recommend a calendar received some 10,000 responses to its survey. The 60 days given for public comment on the recommended calendar saw “significant” feedback directed to the school system. And the stories we’ve posted online drew dozens of sometimes angry comments on both sides of the issue. Points of contention centered on the ability to plan for end-of-summer vacations, breaks during the school year, religious holidays and the lack of available childcare in the final two weeks of the summer, when many potential workers have returned to college.

The first day for students in 2020-21 will be Tuesday, Sept. 8 — the day after Labor Day — based on the calendar the Board of Education voted to accept at its Wednesday night meeting. That’s awfully late. In fact, with Labor Day designated as the first Monday of September each year and falling on Sept. 7 in 2020, this is as late as school is ever likely to start. That seemingly presented an opportunity to set a precedent going forward, perhaps starting after Labor Day when it falls Sept. 1 through Sept. 4 and the week before when Labor Day is Sept. 5 or later.

But the decision for the foreseeable future apparently is made: Carroll County will start school after Labor Day. “This is the toughest year," Board President Donna Sivigny said Wednesday. “If we can make it work this year, it gets easier from here."

Maybe that is for the best, allowing families to simply go into every year knowing the first day of school comes after Labor Day. That seemed to be favored by the majority anyway, with 53% of respondents to the committee’s survey saying they preferred to always have a post-Labor Day start. Of course, that means 47% either wanted to start prior to Labor Day or to decide on it annually depending on how late in the year Labor Day falls. Not exactly a mandate.

This compact calendar that has kids getting out of school on June 16 — or earlier, depending on how many of the five built-in inclement weather days are needed — comes with only two schools days off for spring break. And it does not give students off for Yom Kippur, although the BOE said accommodations would be made for students and staff who are absent to celebrate the holiday, making sure schools don’t schedule activities like tests or field trips.

“I’m fully cognizant we’re not going to please everybody,” Superintendent Steve Lockard said Wednesday.

That was a given. At any rate, we applaud the process that allowed for plenty of input from so many stakeholders. One of the major criticisms that used to be leveled against the school system was its lack of transparency and failure to listen to those affected by its decisions. That can’t be said regarding this decision.

The School Calendar Committee was composed of parents, employees, community members, Community Advisory Council members, and employee bargaining group representatives. And then the survey and public comment provided a forum for anyone who wanted a say in the matter. The eventually chosen calendar was one of three created by the committee, but it was twice revised, we assume, based on the feedback being received.

So, no, not everyone is happy. But at least everyone had an opportunity to be heard.