MD Senate overturns Hogan’s executive order for late school start

By Zara Ali

The Maryland Senate overturned Governor Hogan’s executive order that mandated all Maryland public schools must start after Labor Day weekend and end by June 25. The bill to overturn the order will now go to the Maryland House, where it is expected to pass due to the Democratic majority supporting the repeal, Montgomery County Board of Education president Shebra Evans said.

The Senate voted largely along party lines (31-12) in favor of overturning the order. If the House votes to overturn the order as well, Governor Hogan has agreed to put the decision on a 2020 referendum.

The original 2016 mandate was meant to support businesses in Ocean City and allow students to spend more time with their families. As a result of the mandate, businesses in Ocean City did experience a rise in tourism these past two years. However, these benefits have come at the cost of control over the school calendar year; the mandate forced the county to add days and shorten breaks throughout the school year to compensate.

“We should have local control over the district to make those decisions, especially around the calendar,” Evans said. “I’m very positive that we will have support to overturn the order.”

Due to the mandated late start of the school year, the county was only able to build in three extra days for snow days this year, compared to four days prior to the mandate. MCPS has already had four snow days; as a result, spring break has been shortened from five to four days and the end of the school year has been extended by one day.

The extra week the county previously had at the beginning of the year gave teachers more flexibility that they no longer have, principal Robert Dodd said. Dodd hopes schools will start before Labor Day to relieve the burden and logistical stress the late start date places on teachers.

“As an educator, I didn’t see any compelling educational reasons to make changes to the calendar in the first place,” Dodd said. “It was something that wasn’t broken and didn’t need to be fixed.”