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Editorial: BOE should approve post-Labor Day start calendar, regardless of challenges to Hogan's order

Hold off on booking that weeklong trip to Ocean City with your school-aged kids the last week before Labor Day next summer.

While not a formal opinion from the Maryland Attorney General's Office, a 24-page letter penned by Adam Snyder, the AG's chief counsel of opinions and advice, in response to legislators' questions about Gov. Larry Hogan's executive order for all public schools to start after Labor Day opens the door for a legal challenge to be filed. The letter also makes clear the order could be overturned by the General Assembly during next year's session.

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Our guess is this means the issue may not be decided until spring at best, leaving school calendars for the following year potentially undecided until then. However, school boards still have local control and, if like Carroll County, there is a post-Labor Day option that works, they should move to approve it.

Last week, Carroll County Public School's introduced two possible calendars for 2017-18 school year — one that fits the requirements of the governor's executive order to start class after Labor Day on Sept. 5 and wrap up by June 15; another in which school begins Aug. 29, finishes a day earlier and includes longer spring and winter breaks. The Board of Education is expected to approve both calendars at its November meeting after soliciting feedback from the public, and then decide which to use after the dust settles on the legality of Hogan's order.

Carroll education officials noted that adhering to the requirements of the governor's executive order for the 2017-18 year was a bit easier because of the way holidays fell and because school did not need to close for an Election Day during that span. But in 2018-19, even with an Election Day, Christmas and New Year's falling on Tuesdays, two Jewish high holy days, three professional days for teachers, five emergency weather days and June 15 falling on a Saturday, it can still be done, again with the sacrifice of a shorter spring break.

In that case, we think they should just adopt the post-Labor Day calendar later this fall and see how it works out, regardless of what might happen with the executive order. After all, there is no requirement that schools must start before Labor Day if Hogan's order is overturned in court or in the State House.

Formal and informal polls have shown that parents and students would prefer a post-Labor Day start to school. Pollsters at Goucher College last year found that 72 percent of Maryland residents supported a statewide mandate to require schools to begin after Labor Day. Supporters have said it would be better for families and students, that starting earlier didn't make sense and that the school calendar should return to the way it used to be.

Hogan's order was simply giving the public what it wanted. A solution, at least for the coming year, seems to have been crafted somewhat simply by CCPS.

Public feedback on the calendar can be submitted to the school system between now and when the calendar is adopted in November. If you support a post-Labor Day start or just want to see how it works out, let the school board know by going to the school system's home page www.carrollk12.org and clicking on the link that says "Board of Education seeks feedback."

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