Frederick County Public Schools already had the earliest start date of any school system in the state, opening on Aug. 18. Now the system is considering moving the first day of school even earlier.

Parents were already complaining about start date this year. Moving it earlier is going to strike many parents as ridiculous.

The Frederick County Board of Education has to set a school calendar far in advance, so it is currently looking at proposals for the 2023-24 school year.

The school system website said that, under the draft 2023-2024 calendar presented to the board last week, school would begin for students on Wednesday, Aug. 9, and end Tuesday, May 21, 2024. If all five snow days are needed, the last day of school for students would be Wednesday, May 29, 2024, the system said.

Kevin Cuppett, FCPS director of curriculum, instruction and innovation, presented the draft calendar to board members. We are in favor of innovation in education, but this is a bridge too far for us.

Cuppett acknowledged to the board that the early start date was likely to upset some community members. According to the article by News-Post reporter Jillian Atelsek, board member Sue Johnson blurted out, with a laugh, “It doesn’t feel good!”

Indeed, it does not look good or feel good.

Cuppett said the idea of the change would be to move the school system closer to a calendar where the first semester ends before students leave for winter break. Under the current system, the second semester or third term of the year begins about two weeks after students return from winter break.

That is not a terrible idea, but it could easily be argued that students can return from winter break refreshed and ready for first semester finals, and then the start of a new semester. Both are legitimate proposals.

Cuppett said starting that early would allow students to finish earlier. True enough, but work schedules at many firms encourage employees to take their vacations in August, and this calendar would play havoc with them.

Many other aspects of life — children’s sports and camps, family reunions, summer jobs, beach vacations — are structured around a late August start to the school year.

The start date has slowly crept up over the years from the traditional beginning after Labor Day. Families have adjusted, with more or less grumbling. But pushing the start of school to the beginning of August seems excessive.

Cuppett said he hoped families might appreciate beginning summer break on June 1, but we doubt it. Most people just don’t like change, and this is a big one.

The proposed calendar year would include 27 weeks of five-day instruction, a longer-than-typical spring break and days off for Yom Kippur and the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. It also has five built-in snow days. The possibility of switching to virtual instruction during inclement weather is also being explored.

The board did not make a final decision on the calendar. It has posted instructions on its website, fcps.org, for parents and community members to make comments about the proposal, and it will be accepting comments until Dec. 3.

“We [should] really wait to hear from the public on this one,” board vice president Karen Yoho said.

The board is likely to get an earful.

(26) comments

Plumbum

The system has a hard enough time hiring and retaining teachers. Take away summer and we’ll lose teachers

Plumbum

The bus drivers will quit. If you think it’s hard finding drivers now, wait till the schedule is changed........

Stuck in the Middle with You

I think all can agree that we want the best education for our children. The question is, does the new schedule provide this? Cuppett does not give any data to suggest that the new calendar schedule does this. Since this is all about High School kids taking AP tests, where is the data showing improvement/decline based on school start dates? If there is no data supporting this proposal, why not keep what is in place until you have data? I believe that is why so many are upset, there is no solid reason given to do this.

MD1756

It would seem that parents are never pleased except where they are given greater tax breaks. With all these days off for this that and the other thing they need to extend the school year to account for additional days off. If school had to be extended further into June parents would complain. If parents had their priorities straight their children's education (and ensuring they get get all instructional days in) should be more important than the start date or length of their summer break. For the amount of taxes I have to pay to educate children I'd rather see year long school maybe with longer breaks between semesters. if that resulted in fewer travel vacations there would be multiple added benefits including saving money for families that would otherwise waste the money on traveling for vacation. They could then put that money towards paying for their children's college education.

Plumbum

You don’t have children I see

MD1756

You are correct plumbum. I have not contributed to the growing human population and climate change problems, nor have I been given a tax break for not adding to the governments' burdens (especially state and local) by having children. For that I have the privilege of paying extra taxes so that those who do choose to have children can do so more cheaply and thus are encouraged to have even more and make the climate change problem worse.

Can I assume that by your comment, you do have children? If so, the next question would be ... Did you have more than two children? if the answer is yes, then you are directly contributing to the problems.

Plumbum

?

Plumbum

August is too hot, the school buses engines will all overheat

gjthuro

the whole idea is absurd...but no surprise

sevenstones1000

If all schools in the country adopted this August-May schedule, the issue with camps, sports, etc would not be insurmountable. But the fact is, Frederick will be mostly alone in their summer start. This is a solution in search of a problem.

Returning to achool in August makes zero sense. Somehow we all had midterms in January and survived just fine. Do better, folks.

HappySeller2014

FCPS run by idiots. FCPS School Board impotent nannies. FCPS Union a bunch of complainers.

Kids should be off for summer break Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend. Make the school calendar FIT into the other months. Period.

Colleges easily do it...most out by early May. And professors work year-round.

No more kvetching. And no more four hour early and late dismissals. And teacher workdays. And Fair Day. Go back to the 1980s when teachers worked hard daily and got their summers off. And teachers and kids these days only in classrooms 180 days a year, not 200 like in 1980s.

Quit dumbing down our kids and coddling our teachers. Rise up FCPS and meet the challenges!

shiftless88

College professors are generally paid for nine months. At least in science/engineering, they need to get research grants to cover the other three.

shiftless88

If anyone can make a logical argument about why this is a problem in and of itself, I'd love to hear it. Nothing I have heard used as a complaint cannot be easily changed to accommodate this if this is the best for education.

artandarchitecture

Besides changing the start date, all teacher work days should be scheduled to occur on a Mon. or Fri. imo.

FlyFisherman

Based on this statement -“Many other aspects of life — children’s sports and camps, family reunions, summer jobs, beach vacations — are structured around a late August start to the school year.” it’s apparent that student academics are NOT the priority. So the assumption is that NONE of these most important activities could be scheduled at different times.

shiftless88

Exactly. The school calendar should primarily be optimized for education, not tradition.

cyntiast

Actually all of these things (vacations, camps) are important to the growth of a child. The academic environment is not the only place where a child learns and develops. They learn also by traveling, being around extended family,camps activities, having summer jobs, etc. Being on the East Coast, the ocean waters don't even really begin to warm up until late July. I know - not everyone goes to the ocean, but many do so. And if there is inconsistency between the counties, there will be a loss of teachers because many chose that career to have extended periods of time off for personal reason or to enjoy time with their own families. Many Frederick County teachers can't even afford to live in the county that they work or afford to work in the county in which they live.

shiftless88

There are still two months in which to do these things. More than two months, in fact. I grew up on the west coast; ocean waters NEVER warm up there and yet kids manage to survive and even thrive.

nbouqu1

This creates additional child-care issues. The camps and sports programs are built around the traditional school year to provide structured activities for the kids. And a lot of them are not necessarily Frederick County based or can be time shifted that dramatically. Hell the pools don't open until Memorial Day Weekend.

shiftless88

"Pools don't open until Memorial Day Weekend" as an argument about not shifting a school year is about the most first-world problem statement I've ever read.

Greg F

Complain, complain. US suffers from brain drain that has been an issue as long as there have been summer breaks. Many other nations have year-round education with longer scattered breaks of between a week and several weeks throughout the year. As a result, they are better educated overall, and kids are able to retain the education they got rather than lollygagging around all summer. The education system already lacks critical thinking skills and seems to train more for a job than a career or a path to think outside the box other than technical skills and memorization. Seems like a great move.

Plumbum

Many other nations? We are America we are not other nations. Who cares about other nations. That’s such a poor reason. It’s like “I can’t think of how to justify approval, so I’ll use an overplayed statement”.

Also I want the kids working summer jobs I want them learning trades and preparing for adult life.

cspruill1964

More than half of the states in this country have at least one school district with year-round schedules. It’s not unheard of to adjust school schedules regularly based on the needs of the majority of families and students in a particular school system.

Plumbum

Duh

nbouqu1

Your point is irrelevant. They are not talking about shortening Summer Break but shifting it to well before Summer starts.

LoveOneAnother

Your comments are irrelevant - the proposal is not for year-round school, but for a shift to an earlier start and finish, a calendar that is out of sync with the surrounding region. Because we would be out of sync with the rest of Md, Pa, De, Va, etc., families' choices for summer childcare and activities will be limited. I'm not talking about "the ocean temps aren't warm enough in June!" complaints, I'm talking about having very limited options for camps, and difficulty coordinating visits with family members who live elsewhere. It's just hard to be the only district changing things up.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. No vulgar, racist, sexist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, not personal attacks or ad hominem criticisms.
TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
Be civil. Don't threaten. Don't lie. Don't bait. Don't degrade others.
No trolling. Stay on topic.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
No deceptive names. Apparently misleading usernames are not allowed.
Say it once. No repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link for abusive posts.

Thank you for reading!

Already a member?

Login Now
Click Here!

Currently a News-Post subscriber?

Activate your membership at no additional charge.
Click Here!

Need more information?

Learn about the benefits of membership.
Click Here!

Ready to join?

Choose the membership plan that fits your needs.
Click Here!