Matt Wildrick/The Commuter.

Frederick reacts to new FCPS start date

By Nikki King

Governor Larry Hogan passed a new law on August 2016 that orders all Maryland Public schools to begin post Labor Day beginning September 2017— an act causing divided reactions amongst Frederick County residents. 

In a press release, Hogan advocated for the positive economic impact of the law, noting a 2013 Maryland Board of Revenue Estimates study, which “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.” 

But opponents of this decision question its logic, given the school year calendar’s construction.

“Our locally elected Board of Education has established a calendar committee that includes representatives from key community groups and stakeholders, including parents, staff, and students.” said Terry Alban, superintendent of Frederick County Public Schools.

“This committee makes recommendations to the Board and the public is invited to provide comment either in person, at the Board of Education meeting, or via email. The Board of Education then votes on the approved calendar,” she added.

The calendar currently used by FCPS has already been approved through this process. A later start date would compromise this already well constructed school year calendar, Alban said. 

“We will have to modify our current calendar to comply with this new law, and could lose days when students typically are on spring break,” she added, noting that Fair Day and Jewish holidays may also be on the line, which will affect student attendance. 

The new law garnered a strong opinion from Alban, as well as Frederick County residents, FCC staff, FCPS graduates, and FCPS faculty. 

Kim Whitley is a mother from Frederick County who has two children who’ve already graduated from public schools. About 30 years ago, schools in Maryland started post Labor Day and she recalls what it was like.

“It was great! It made the summer seem so much longer and families were able to have more time to vacation.” Whitley said. 

According to 2016 Tuscarora high alumni, Isabella Mendiola, this change should have been made a long time ago. 

“I know of other counties who have been starting school after Labor Day weekend so I don’t know why it took so long,” Mendiola said. “It makes sense, and it’s not like starting a week earlier than other counties has made FCPS schools more significantly advanced.”

Current Tuscarora High junior, Caitlin Pickens, seems to feel differently. She said she’s not really a fan: “School starting later would mean a later start date for cheer and there would be less days off throughout the year.” 

FCPS ceramics teacher, MaryRose Reed, along with nutrition professor Kim Burdette, from FCC seem to have pretty similar views on this matter. According to Reed, this new change will allow her to take summer classes without them interfering with work in the beginning of the school year. She also believes it is a great idea that will benefit both students and staff.

“The school year seems to drag on,” Reed said. “For example, by mid May, in the high schools, the average student has completed all the requirements for the class. In other words they are done. HSA’s, AP testing, PARCC, FCC classes and most CRES tests are done by mid May.”

Similarly, Burdette, who has a little boy in kindergarten, said she isn’t mad about the idea of school starting later as well. 

“When it goes into effect, I’m okay with it; you have to adjust to a start time anyway, and starting after Labor Day makes sense because how it is now, you start school and the have a day off a week later. This way will be more consistent.”

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