ANNAPOLIS, Md. — "Heavy-handed tactics," is what Gov. Larry Hogan is calling efforts to turn back his executive order forcing school districts to start classes after Labor Day.
This is a hot button issue that affects every single Maryland school district. They may be a step closer to deciding when to start and finish their school year.
Most school districts have run out of snow days for the year and it's forced many of them to revise their calendars in order to abide by the governor's executive order to end classes in mid-June. But a bill to put school boards back in charge of their calendars could soon become law.
To that, Hogan fired off this statement, “This is just politics at its worst. As if it isn’t bad enough that members of the legislature are attempting to reverse our common sense initiative to start school after Labor Day, they are now using heavy-handed tactics to unfairly influence the ballot process and any petition to bring this issue directly to Maryland voters.
In 2016, after years of public outcry, I took action to return to the tradition of starting school after Labor Day. This is the same action that was recommended by the legislature’s own commission, supported by the former governor and favored by more than 70 percent of the people of Maryland.
Now this popular idea is being threatened by out-of-touch politicians and special interests. Members of the Maryland Senate should heed the calls of the overwhelming majority of Marylanders -- reject this legislation and repudiate this thinly-veiled attempt to manipulate the will of our citizens."
Most school systems said this latest development is causing them to wait and see.
"Do we want to amend it and go back before Labor Day, hypothetical, knowing that in two years you could have a referendum that puts it back after Labor Day and do you want to do that and play ping pong with the calendar if that's the way it ends up," said Bob Mosier, of Anne Arundel County Schools.
Baltimore City Pubic Schools, another school system out of snow days, issued a statement saying, "Should this legislation become law, at minimum it will improve the district's ability to schedule for snow days without needing to remove important opportunities for teacher professional learning or infringe on holiday breaks."
Last month, the governor sent out this warning to lawmakers regarding a bill to overturn his executive order, "Any local school system that attempts to evade the law and start school before Labor Day would be required to put that decision on the ballot."
But aides to the governor admit that a bill he supports, which called for a local referendum on this issue, is all but dead or very unlikely to pass this session.
School calendars have already been set for this year, but school boards reserve the right to make changes.