The Montgomery County Board of Education on Tuesday voted unanimously to begin school after Labor Day next September and end the school year no later than June 15, 2017.
Update, 3:03 p.m.: The board agreed to follow Gov. Larry Hogan's executive order signed in August that required all school districts to start school after Labor Day beginning with the 2017-2018 school year. Initially, the board had said it would seek a waiver and also developed options that included starting school before Labor Day, as in past years.
However, board member Patricia O’Neill said the board needed to abide by state law.
"I think we’ve had to throw up our hands and surrender. I don’t see any viable option other than by abiding the executive order," O'Neill said Wednesday.
The school board had tried to make the case that the local jurisdiction should have control over the school calendar. However, Hogan shrugged off criticism from board members and others who opposed the executive order by saying that 75 percent of Marylanders supported a post-Labor Day school start. The governor amended his original order to make it harder for school systems to receive a waiver from the Maryland State Department of Education.
The proposed MCPS calendar will now begin Sept. 5, 2017, on the Tuesday after Labor Day, and conclude no later than Friday, June 15, 2018, according to the school system.
"All we passed were both ends of the calendar, the start date and the end date," O'Neill said. Proposals for a finalized version of the calendar—with snow days, professional days and holidays—is expected to be considered at the board of education’s meeting on Dec. 13.
O'Neill had said she would favor the school system challenge Hogan's order in court.
"Obviously, I prefer to start before Labor Day," she said. A court case, however, would cost time and money, she said. As a convenience to our parents, the board went ahead and accepted a calendar following Hogan's order so people can start making vacation and other plans.
She said some state lawmakers had suggested the board ignore Hogan's order. She said she took the same oath as the lawmakers to uphold the law. That option, she said, wasn't palatable.
Editor's note: This story was updated Wednesday after an interview with school board member Pat O'Neill.