Options for the 2020-2021 Frederick County Public Schools calendar are under development, with a pre-Labor Day start date being strongly considered.
Members of the FCPS calendar committee, which is made up of parents, teachers, and FCPS staff among others and charged by the Board of Education, held their second meeting of the school year last week to discuss priorities for next year’s calendars and begin making drafts.
“We were tasked by the board to make the best educational calendar we could,” said Kevin Cuppett, co-chair of the committee. “We talked about things like having as many full days of school as possible, making sure the kids are prepared for [Advanced Placement] tests. ... We developed a list of priorities that would guide the development of the actual calendar.”
Cuppett said it’s important to develop priorities as there are so many other factors of the calendar that can’t be controlled, such as state and religious holidays.
“A lot of people I think don’t understand that there are a lot of requirements that control what the calendar looks like that are beyond the control of any school district,” Cuppett said. “But what we do have control over is what are we going to prioritize for our kids.”
There is also more flexibility in the calendar development this year as Maryland school districts are no longer required to have a post-Labor Day start.
In 2016, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued an executive order that required all state public schools to begin their academic year after the “end of summer” holiday. In March, that order was overturned by the General Assembly, allowing local jurisdictions to make up the calendar, despite Hogan’s veto.
Cuppett said the committee is looking at both options and has not ruled out anything, but that many committee members favor a pre-Labor Day start as it simply gives the school system more options and time.
Members of the board has in the past backed a pre-Labor Day start, especially in years that don’t leave a lot of scheduling flexibility, which the 2020-2021 school year does not.
“The challenge with the post-Labor Day start ... is there’s only so much you can do in the calendar, and for many people on the calendar committee, they didn’t feel that produced the best educational calendar for kids,” Cuppett said.
The committee will continue working on drafts and will present a final option to the board for review in November.