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Marylanders support post-Labor Day start for schools, poll says

Peter Franchot testifies Thursday for bill requiring public schools to start after Labor Day.

With a new poll showing that 72 percent of Marylanders support the concept, Comptroller Peter Franchot plans to testify on Thursday a bill that would require Maryland public schools to start the academic year after Labor Day.

Franchot has been the chief cheerleader for what he calls his "Let Summer Be Summer" initiative, which appears to be gaining traction even though school administrators oppose it. As of 8:30 a.m., Franchot still planned to testify on the legislation as it receives its first hearing in the House Ways & Means Committee in the early afternoon. The comptroller's planned news conference on the topic was canceled due to snow.

The comptroller received a boost this week from a Goucher College poll of Maryland citizens showing that only 19 percent oppose the post-Labor Day start. Most Maryland school systems now begin the year in August.

Franchot's advocacy has already won the public support of two governors, Martin O'Malley and Larry Hogan, and a gubernatorial task force that voted 11-4 in favor of the idea last May.

Proponents, including boosters of Ocean City and Deep Creek Lake, contend the later start would give families an extra week of prime summer vacation time to spend at the resorts. Franchot has argued that such a move would bolster state tax revenues. Educators say the later start would make it difficult to schedule the minimum number of teaching days before mid-June.

Scheduled to appear at the news conference are the Senate sponsor, Sen. James N. Mathias, a Lower Shore Democrat, and House sponsor, Del. Anne Healey, a Prince George's County Democrat. Joining them will be Ocean City Mayor Richard Meehan and several business owners.

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