As expected, Governor Larry Hogan signed an executive order today, requiring all Maryland public schools to open after Labor Day, beginning next year. But opponents questioned its legality, and the governor’s motives.
In making his announcement on the boardwalk at Ocean City, the governor said it will help the state’s economy, because families will be able to extend their summer vacations.
“Starting Maryland public schools after Labor Day is not just a family issue,” Hogan said. “It’s an economic and public safety issue that draws clear, strong, bipartisan support among an overwhelming majority of Marylanders.”
The governor’s office cited a 2013 economic impact study by Maryland’s Bureau of Revenue Estimates. It says opening schools after Labor Day would add more than $74 million to the state’s economy.
The governor also used the announcement to take a shot at Baltimore County for having 37 schools without air conditioning.
The later start date, he said, “will even prevent Baltimore County, which unfortunately has failed to air condition its schools, from losing so many days of school due to heat-related closures.”
The county plans to have air conditioning in all of its schools by 2019.
The Governor also said schools will have to close by June 15.
Baltimore County School Superintendent Dallas Dance said that could shorten breaks during the year.
“School systems will have to look at the number of days within those breaks which include spring break, too,” Dance said.
Under the executive order, school systems can ask for a waiver to be exempt from the post-Labor Day start date. But they would have to apply for it annually and show a “compelling justification” for why the waiver should be granted.
Opponents of Hogan’s move are asking Attorney General Brian Frosh to weigh in on whether the order is legal.
State Senate President Thomas V. ”Mike” Miller, Jr. Called it “extraordinary and legally questionable.” Miller pointed out that State Comptroller Peter Franchot was at the governor’s announcement, which gave it the appearance of “political gamesmanship.”
“The education of our students is too important to play political games like this without any input from local superintendents, boards of education, and teachers,” he said
Miller said it would have been more appropriate for the governor to submit a bill in the 2017 legislature to have schools open after Labor Day.