ANNAPOLIS (Aug. 31, 2016)—Governor Larry Hogan today signed an Executive Order that will require Maryland's public schools to start classes after Labor Day, beginning with the 2017-2018 school year. Citing the benefits of a post-Labor Day school start for families, students, teachers, and the economy, the governor made the announcement on the Ocean City Boardwalk, where he was joined by Comptroller Peter Franchot, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan, Senator James Mathias, Delegate Mary Beth Carozza, education advocates, and other longtime supporters of a post-Labor Day school start.
"Starting Maryland public schools after Labor Day is not just a family issue—it's an economic and public safety issue that draws clear, strong, bipartisan support among an overwhelming majority of Marylanders," said Governor Hogan. "Comptroller Franchot and I believe, and the people of Maryland strongly agree, that this Executive Order puts the best interests of Marylanders first, especially the well-being of our students. This action is long overdue, and it is simply the right thing to do."
The Executive Order signed today will require that Maryland's public schools begin after Labor Day, complete the 180 days that are required under state law, and adjourn by June 15, beginning with the 2017-2018 school year. The executive order does permit for a waiver to be applied for with the Maryland State Department of Education to be exempt from the post-Labor Day start date. For the 2017-2018 school year and beyond, local school systems will have to apply annually for a waiver based on compelling justification. Furthermore, the State Department of Education will establish procedures and standards for school districts and individual schools seeking special waivers to accommodate non-traditional schedules.
"I applaud Governor Hogan for signing today's executive order," said Comptroller Franchot. "This sensible, long-overdue adjustment of Maryland's public school calendar will be a lifeline for those small, locally-owned businesses that are the backbone of our state's economy and have struggled in the midst of the slowest economic recovery in our nation's history. It will generate new state revenues that can be reinvested in our classrooms and for other vital priorities. It will spare tens of thousands of teachers, students and school employees from having to return to sweltering, unhealthy classrooms in the hottest days of August.
"And finally, it will give families throughout our state time to enjoy those final days of summer the way they were meant to be enjoyed, whether it is taking that final vacation to the beach or the lake, visiting the Inner Harbor or catching an Orioles game, enjoying an evening at the Maryland State Fair, or just relaxing a bit at home. As a father myself, I know that kids grow up far too fast and the time that families have together, in this day and age, goes by in an instant. The action taken today by Governor Hogan will give our families the priceless gift of time, and for that I am personally grateful."
In recent years, the effort to start schools after Labor Day has garnered overwhelming support across the state. Two independent polls by Goucher College, conducted in 2014 and 2015, showed that more than 70 percent of Marylanders support this initiative. Additionally, a petition in favor of a post-Labor Day school start has collected nearly 25,000 signatures.
The significant economic benefits of a post-Labor Day school start have been well documented. A 2013 economic impact study by Maryland's Bureau of Revenue Estimates found that a post-Labor Day school start could generate an additional $74.3 million in direct economic activity, including $3.7 million in new wages and $7.7 million in state and local tax revenue.
In 2013, a nonpartisan task force, which included teachers, administrators, school board members, PTA members, and other public stakeholders, was convened by the General Assembly and chaired by the Maryland State Department of Education to examine the effects of a post-Labor Day school start on Maryland's education system, as well as its economy and tourism industry. In a report that was issued on June 30, 2014, the task force stated "there was no compelling evidence that showed there was any impact on education starting post-Labor Day." The task force voted 12-3 to recommend that schools begin after Labor Day.
Longtime supporters of this effort were pleased with today's announcement.
"Starting school after Labor Day gives families more time to enjoy the last few weeks of summer and provides small businesses a significant economic boost when they need it most," said Mayor Meehan. "It also creates jobs and generates revenue for our state's economy. After a lot of hard work and tremendous effort, I am thrilled to see an executive order to start school after Labor Day, not because it is good for Ocean City, but because it's good for the entire state. Maryland can finally 'Let Summer Be Summer.'"
"I'm grateful to Governor Hogan for his action today," said Senator Mathias. "I've worked on this effort for a long, long time, and I can't wait to see the faces on the kids and families enjoying themselves the way they should on the boardwalk the weekend before Labor Day. This is a win for the families and for the economy."
"Starting school after Labor Day is good for Maryland families and Maryland's economy by giving that last stretch of summer for families and friends to spend together, either at home or on vacation," said Delegate Carozza. "I've heard from many families, teachers, and our small business owners who have long supported a later start school date, and after talking to school administrators and personnel, I am confident that the calendars will be well managed by our local boards."