Frederick County public schools could start before Labor Day next year, but a final decision is still months away.

With Labor Day falling late in 2020, school board members believe an earlier start might be necessary but for now are leaving that planning up to the school system’s Calendar Committee.

The committee’s recommendation is likely to come by December.

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.

Now, school districts can determine their own start date.

The Calendar Committee is made up of no more than 20 members all appointed by the school board. Members include parents, teachers, students and PTA council members.

The committee’s sole responsibility is to develop a calendar for the following school year with the goal of maximizing instructional time.

School board President Brad Young said at Wednesday’s work session that one of his main concerns for next year is that Labor Day doesn’t fall until Sept. 7, meaning students would get close to an extra week of summer vacation compared with this year.

“I wanted ... to have the board at least give a little bit of guidance on the new mandate that we do not need to start school by Labor Day,” Young said.

The school calendar start date has been a point of discussion among parents, FCPS staff, and representatives of the county since Hogan’s mandate was overturned.

At a joint meeting of the school board and County Council in June, Councilman Jerry Donald brought up the idea of having an earlier start date, arguing that this would give students more time to prepare for end-of-the-year testing, which would in turn help the school system make strides in closing the achievement gap.

Board member Liz Barrett brought up similar reasoning Wednesday, but said she wanted to see data before deciding.

“There’s a lot of conversation on the impact of AP testing with having a later calendar start. Are we seeing that impact?” Barrett said. “I know teachers feel crunched ... but are we seeing an impact on AP test scores or AP test participation that we can correlate back to the start?”

School Superintendent Terry Alban said the committee could work on collecting feedback from teachers and students on this point but wanted to know more specifically what type of calendar the board wants to see the committee develop — pre- or post-Labor Day.

“This is kind of the first time in the history of the Calendar Committee that they could go either way,” she said.

Board member Joy Schaefer said she feels Labor Day shouldn’t be a sticking point for the committee.

“[The committee] are certainly going to consider [Labor Day] as a holiday that exists,” Schaefer said. “But for us to create a parameter around something that has really nothing to do with providing quality education ... our intent should be what is the optimal instructional calendar period.”

Board member Karen Yoho agreed.

“If they can come up with a calendar that makes the most sense, that’s what I want to see,” Yoho said.

Barrett also asked if moving back the start date could allow a re-expansion of spring break, which is currently only three days compared with the traditional week offered by counties such as Montgomery and Howard.

All agreed that this is something that could be brought into the discussion.

The Calendar Committee will soon convene to develop options to present to the board for review. According to regulation, the committee is expected to provide a preliminary report to the board before their first board meeting in December and present final options for board approval by the first meeting in January.

Follow Katryna Perera on Twitter:

@katrynajill.

(33) comments

MD123

I’m fine with starting after Labor Day if they are willing to give the kids a real spring break and get out of school before the last week of June. Look at other school systems outside of the state. It’s baffling that they can figure out a way to make it work (school out just after Memorial Day weekend and a full week of spring break) and still meet the requirements for instructional time.

jerseygrl42

leave it alone already...don't you have anything more important to do...majority of the [people who put you in charge want you to LERAVE IT ALONE

rnrbug

Jerry Donald brought up the idea of having an earlier start date, arguing that this would give students more time to prepare for end-of-the-year testing, which would in turn help the school system make strides in closing the achievement gap.

REALLY.....what gap. All about the almighty testing numbers. How about we go back to teaching to learn instead of to pass the dang tests

niceund

BRAVO!

hayduke2

How about we do away with summer vacation completely. Have school on a twelve month basis with 10 weeks on, 2 weeks off. That would allow families to have vacation days during all the seasons, major holidays off and make maximum use of school buildings.

sporter333

A year round school is the worst. Coming from someone who grew up with it, there's no "downtime" to unwind and enjoy time off. When my family moved out of the year round school to MD almost 18 years ago, my sister and I was a year behind the other students academically. What about snow days? During the 10 weeks on, you have 4 days of snow days, that the school didn't accommodate for, what are you going to take away from? The first 2 weeks that they would normally have off is now just 10 days, including the weekends of course, with snow and ice as a factor, this is not a good idea

hayduke2

All of which can be worked around. As far as being "behind", most data doesn't show that.

des21

One of the only times we agree Hayduke but I'd have 4 9 week sessions (similar to the 1/4s we have now) with 4 weeks off in between. I've got to get to Spring training at some point in my life and the kids would retain far more.

hayduke2

des - I suspect we agree on a lot more than is often apparent.

rnrbug

[thumbdown]

joelp77440

Just leave it alone. Took a couple of years to get adjusted to the new/old after labor day system, now they want to change it back. It's just politics playing with our lives. The kid's education is not effected on little bit, not matter what crappy statistical charge you pull up.

rnrbug

[thumbup]

rcfoster

Start with the day after labor day and the day before memorial and fill in 180 days of instruction. Then work out the important holidays and then the breaks. Cut out the 'in service' days and then see what is left over for the silly days off. I'd just as soon see them go year round. Take a couple of weeks off at Christmas, Easter, Memorial Day and then Labor Day.

Business Owner

If Hogan were a democrat, this school board would have figured out a way to start the day after Labor Day.

des21

Nooooooooo!!! It ain't broke- don't "fix" it.



As a teacher paid by other people's taxes (and my own), anything that raises state revenues- like keeping tourist attractions hopping for the entire month of August and maybe a few days in September- without raising taxes is a no brainer!!! How public sector employees could be against this baffles me.

public-redux

Did state tax revenues increase because of the school start date?

You’d have to eliminate the transfers (increased tax revenue from dining out in OC would need to be offset by reduced tax revenue from dining out in Frederick, Rockville, etc.). And you would have to figure out how many Marylanders took their tourist dollars out of state in late August compared to out of staters who brought their tourist dollars to Maryland.

I haven’t seen an analysis.

rnrbug

[thumbup]

rnrbug

For many school is a babysitter for their kiddos....mine are all out if school. But I wish after labor day was in their school yrs. Summer break is short anyhow. Leave it be

jbbmdonald

Well, DES, you teach PE, right? Do you coach? The entire month of August is blocked off now for band camp, sports practice, etc. If you are a parent with even one kid in any of these activities you are not going on vacation in August. These things start in August because the games start in September. If school started in August these activities could be after school, still with plenty of time to get ready before the games starting in September. School would end by Memorial Day, giving families the full June and July for vacations. It would also give teachers more days to teach before all of the standardized tests in May, tests whose dates are not controlled by the County or State (example - AP tests). Starting in mid August and ending by Memorial Day should increase test scores and increase vacation time, all at no cost to the taxpayer. Hogan had a good idea, he just went for the wrong holiday. Ending by Memorial Day is far better than starting after Labor Day.

hayduke2

jb- [thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

herndoncrew

As a transplant (I grew up in PA) I do not understand wanting to start after Labor Day...8 weeks of summer vacation is plenty to fit in everything you want to do during summer, school should start no later than 3rd Monday in August and give us a longer winter break and our spring break week back.

pfitzgerald

Labor Day on 9/4 or earlier, start after Labor Day. Labor Day on 9/5 or later, start one week early. Can anyone think outside the box?

SWY1009

Agree - it just does not seem this hard to figure out.

CrashDavis

"Barrett also asked if moving back the start date could allow a re-expansion of spring break, which is currently only three days compared with the traditional week offered by counties such as Montgomery and Howard."



So if ALL Maryland counties up until the point were mandated to start after Labor Day and end by June 15, then WHY is it that Frederick couldn't offer a week long spring break when others could?

public-redux

Getting rid of Fair Day would provide one of the two days. I don’t know for sure but I’d guess Howard and MontCo don’t have Fair Day.

hayduke2

Because their fair takes place before school starts

public-redux

Good point.

Nonetheless.

rnrbug

Haha...their fairs are in summer while school is out.

richardlyons

[yawn]

LeonardKeepers

the start of the school year belongs after labor day.they already have too many holidays.

niceund

Oh yes Ms Barrett, let's definitely start school earlier so the kids can have even more days off.

Cowell

Barrett and Donald are out of touch! This committee of 20 needs to hear from the parents and not the politicians on this. School start date after Labor day!

rnrbug

[thumbup]

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