Frederick County Public Schools will open after Labor Day next school year, complying with a controversial gubernatorial executive order.

Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, signed an executive order on Aug. 31, requiring all of Maryland’s public schools to start after Labor Day and end by June 15.

Hogan earned the ire of educational leaders and Democratic lawmakers, who accused him of overstepping his legal bounds and disregarding the purview of the local school districts.

The Frederick County Board of Education voted Wednesday to approve the 2017-18 calendar. The first day of school will be Tuesday, Sept. 5, the day after Labor Day.

Of the seven-member board, only April Miller voted against the calendar. She said she disagreed with not offering a longer spring break for students outside of Good Friday and the Monday after Easter. The district must close on both of these days, per state law.

She said in a later interview that many people gave feedback about wanting a longer spring break, and that many high school juniors and seniors use that time for college visits.

This school year, spring break runs from April 14 through 21.

Only four snow days have been designated in the calendar, fewer than what the district has used in recent years. Last school year, the system closed six days for weather, and a dozen times two years before that.

Hogan allows the Maryland State Board of Education to grant exemptions from his order, but only for specific reasons, none of which the Frederick County school district meets.

Breaking from tradition, next school year, the school district has scheduled the day that students typically attend The Great Frederick Fair on a Thursday instead of Friday, on the same day as the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana.

The district closes schools for Jewish holidays, not because they’re religious days, but because attendance is traditionally low on those days, officials have said. The school system faced some criticism years ago for scheduling “Fair Day” on Yom Kippur.

Jacqui Kreh, a member of The Great Frederick Fair’s board of directors, urged the school board before its vote to keep Fair Day on Friday. Kreh was a member of the committee that drafts the academic calendar before it is presented to the school board for approval. She had advocated keeping Fair Day separate.

As board members noted in the meeting, the 2018-19 calendar will likely be more challenging to build. Schools must close for election days twice that school year, and where Christmas falls that year makes it more difficult to schedule winter break.

New board member Ken Kerr, a Frederick Community College professor, brought up the fact that the FCC calendar and the school district calendars no longer align. This presents some challenges for high school students who take FCC classes, he said.

Follow Jeremy Bauer-Wolf on Twitter: @jbeowulf.

(17) comments

abowers1

Thank you, MickSchley.

DickD

In New York school started the day after Labor Day, ended roughly June 25th. Many of our classmates were farmers, but the hay was not ready to be cut until then. We got over 200" of snow a year and 20 miles away they got over 300". Many days the temperature was 20 degrees below zero, but we had no snow days because school was never closed or delayed for snow. If you could make it, you were expected to be there and there were days the roads weren't open outside of town as they had 30' drifts. Wasn't until after WWII that they could keep the roads open with snow blowers. And then the first ones threw the snow so far it broke windows in homes. Not many around here would make it there, We all had ice skates, skis and a rifle. You had to be independent, as no one was going to do it for you.

Fair was for the farmers to show produce and was in August, not September.

Not many around here would make it up there around Tug Hill.

bosco

When I went to school after WW II, we started after Labor Day and were finished before Memorial Day. Our high school diplomas were worth one of today's college degrees. We learned to cipher, how to write a coherent sentence and paragraph, how to diagram sentences, and how to talk without saying umm, you know, literally, actually, like, and host of othet filler words. There were winners and losers, no trophies for everyone. We learned respect for our teachers, our community, and our country. Our parents and teachers were in cahoots, so there was no use complaining about school at home.

Of course we walked to school uphill both durections. [lol]

DickD

That allowed you to go down hill ever since, right? Must be right, you are a Republican. lol

ResUrbana

I grew up in Montgomery County with schools starting after Labor day and getting out in the middle of June, and those of us who started and ended school on those dates turned out fine. Why did they ever change it to have school start before Labor Day? And really, as far as Fair Day, how many kids really attend Fair Day on the day designated for it?

HappySeller2014

It is so easy to show everyone how ridiculous these complaints are.

This article spends a bunch of time discussing the concern over Jewish holidays. Last time I checked, less than 2% of FCPS schoolchildren are Jewish, and I am willing to bet a lot do not even belong to families that practice their faith.

Yet FCPS closes for this reason? What about the much larger African American population of schoolkids in Frederick County that celebrate Kwanzaa? What about the larger population of FCPS school kids that celebrate Festivus? Why isn't the FCPS system closed on these days? I am surprised I am not hearing shouts of discrimination and religious intolerance raining down from Braddock Heights and the Catoctin Mountain ridgeline!

Give me a break. What a joke these complaints are. So what you share a day off with the GFF. I have a bunch of Jewish friends in the area who think these complaints are ludicrous. As they say in the military, either learn how to complain the right way, or keep your whole platoon out of it.

jwhamann

There'd be lots more on Agnostic Day.

Fredmd21704

Kwanzaa is already on a day schools are already closed, but I do agree with you on the Jewish excuse. I don't understand why we have to close schools so much regardless of religion. "people wanted a longer spring break". It's already a long as the winter break, why would they need more days off?? That actually is a bit much to ask for even more days off.

richardlyons

Served in the Army for 18 years and I NEVER heard that saying.

HappySeller2014

[smile] It is a US military saying. Just like "Hurry up and wait" or "FUBAR." Not sue how much of the slogans circulated around the Salvation Army, but thanks for ringing the bells near those pots all those years!

HappySeller2014

You always grouse up. My reports groused to me and I grossed upwards to my superior, if it made any sense to do so. 99% of the time, made no sense. But if you are a buck private and try to bring everyone along on your complain train, not good. The whole company affected you have a chance. Less than 2% of the company or platoon affected, good luck.

Fredmd21704

Lets see if we can list the complaints in order: 1. OMG its starting after labor day, i can't take my kids on a vacation. 2. OMG the fair day is on Thursday, and not on Friday. 3. When can i take my kids on vacation. 4. Vacation is ruined..... Lets face it, the FCPS cannot please every parent. You have a year to plan the vacations, and stop using your kids in school as an excuse.

sevenstones1000

Agreed. When did these year round vacations become a thing? You go on vacation during the summer. Deal with it.

Glad to see the schools have returned to the traditional post-Labor Day opening.

Fredmd21704

same here.

abowers1

It's interesting that you bring up the topic of vacations since that was one of the reasons that Hogan initiated the executive order (to try to boost tourism in Ocean City). My theory is that OC will not see an increase in tourism because the people who visit that location will now be putting their dispensable income back into childcare for that extra time period. > $ to childcare = no trip to the beach for many families.

Fredmd21704

I honstly don't think he had OC in mind to boost toursim. I dont understand why every county had to have its own start date, the days of the day after labor day are back. this is how it use to be, and its back to stay again. It isn't any extra time period, the children will still be in school 180 days, that didn't change. and the kids will be off school for 185 days. (notice they are off school more than they are going to school)?

mickschley

He made the announcement on the Boardwalk......

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