Montgomery Board of Education to Apply for Labor Day Waiver

The Montgomery County Board of Education approved a resolution to adopt a calendar for the 2017-2018 school year that would begin prior to Labor Day, contingent upon a waiver approval from the Maryland State Board of Education. The school year would begin on Monday, August 28, 2017, and would end on Thursday, June 14, 2018, if the waiver is granted.

While the Montgomery plan is similar to what the school system does now, it is contingent on a state waiver because it does not comply with Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive order that Maryland schools start after Labor Day and end by June 15.

Hogan said school districts could seek waivers from the Maryland State Board of Education based on a compelling justification.

From The Washington Post,

Montgomery had strong educational reasons for setting the start of the school year before Labor Day, said Montgomery County School Superintendent Jack Smith. He cited labor contracts, instructional and operational needs, and history.

The resolution the county school board approved at its Monday meeting noted the importance of such issues as reducing summer learning loss — when students lose ground academically during the long break from school — and preserving instructional time in the event that schools are closed for emergencies.

County school board member Patricia O’Neill acknowledged during the Monday meeting that uncertainty remains. “If we’re denied, it’ll be Groundhog Day,” and the calendar discussion will resume, she said.

School district staff said community members had sent 320 recent emails on the topic, with views split between an option that started after Labor Day and the calendar the board supported.

County school board member Rebecca Smondrowski said she was supporting the measure even though she recognized many people would prefer to start after Labor Day. “I really think this is in the best interest of our student learning,” she said.

Under the measure the board approved, district officials will continue to work on a proposal that complies with the Hogan order, in case such an option is needed.

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