2019 | Bethesda Beat

Poll Finds Support for Opening Schools After Labor Day

Legislation to give local school boards autonomy over calendars advances

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More Marylanders support opening public schools after Labor Day than changing an executive mandate to allow county school boards to make the decisions on when to start classes, according to a new poll.

Statewide, 56 percent of those taking part in the Gonzales Maryland Poll said schools should be closed through Labor Day, the first Monday in September, and 40 percent said school boards should have autonomy over their academic calendars.

In the Washington region, 53 percent favored post-Labor Day starts and 43 percent said the decision should be local.

“Voters between the ages of 35 and 54 are the only bloc in which a majority don’t think schools should be mandated to remain closed through the holiday that marks the end of summer,” according to the findings released Tuesday.

Gov. Larry Hogan’s 2016 executive order forcing schools to open after Labor Day left a number of school districts scrambling to adjust their academic years to meet a state requirement of 180 days of instruction, with some trimming spring break after inclement weather forced cancellation of classes.

The governor’s measure, designed in part to help boost late-summer tourism, is being challenged in the state legislature this year.

Bills under consideration would give counties and Baltimore City the authority to open schools earlier.

The Senate last month approved one measure, co-sponsored by Montgomery County Sen. Nancy King, and the House of Delegates is expected to begin debate this month.

The poll from Gonzales Research & Media Services is based on telephone interviews with 817 registered voters between Feb. 22 and March 1. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percent.