Allegany County public school students will report for classes in August next school year despite Governor Larry Hogan’s executive order requiring a post-Labor Day start.
The Allegany County Board of Education was granted a waiver from the governor’s order at January’s board meeting of the Maryland State Department of Education. The waiver was approved based on weather conditions in Western Maryland.
According to The Cumberland Times-News,
The local school board is expected to approve an Aug. 29 start for Allegany County students at Tuesday’s board meeting.
“We qualified for a waiver from Gov. Hogan based on our weather history,” said David Cox, Allegany County superintendent of schools. “We were one of a few school districts that applied. Garrett and Allegany counties are the only two … granted a waiver. We are the two counties that have the most severe weather.”
The local board had asked for feedback on two calendar options. One option had students reporting Aug. 22 and the second had an Aug. 29 start date.
Allegany County Public Schools average seven or eight lost days each school year due to inclement weather. Some years, schools have been closed for as many as 16 days.
“It gives us a lot of flexibility,” said Cox. “We are still required to be out by June 15, but an earlier start helps reduce some of the anxiety.”
Cox said school officials received little negative input from parents in regard to the August start.
“We didn’t get much negative feedback,” said Cox. “The most support we got was people wanting to start before Labor Day because they know we can miss so much.”
Mandated holidays for Maryland schools are Thanksgiving Day and the day after, Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Presidents’ Day, Good Friday and the Monday after Easter, Memorial Day and primary and general election days.
Cox said the idea of a pre-Labor Day start in Allegany County was thoroughly vetted.
“We’ve had a couple surveys on our website and we had a teacher roundtable,” said Cox. “You won’t get 100 percent agreement, but with our principals, teachers and staff we’ve talked about it for several months and worked through a lot of different suggestions.”