WASHINGTON — Presidents Day is traditionally a time for students to stay home from school and enjoy a day off, but legislation making its way through the
Maryland General Assembly could change that.
The bill would allow local school districts to make their own decisions as to whether students should be kept in class on Presidents Day. The same would be true for Easter Monday.
“Right now they’re mandated to take Easter Monday and Presidents Day. This would give them the option,” said the bill’s sponsor Del. Pamela Beidle, D-Anne Arundel County.
Beidle said one of the main issues that prompted the bill was Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive order last year that requires, with few exceptions, schools to start classes after Labor Day and to end no later than June 15.
“Our school year has been shortened, so these couple of days could be very important to the school schedule,” Beidle said.
Hogan and Maryland State Comptroller Peter Franchot said the change gives families more time to enjoy summer vacation in August, and would provide an economic boost to the tourism industry and small businesses in the state.
Hogan said the post-Labor Day start would help schools save on energy costs — August is the second hottest month on average in Maryland. Also, the later start would reduce disruptions in the early part of the schools year when schools without air conditioning are forced to close on extremely hot days.
But Beidle and other critics of Hogan’s move say school systems are now limited in how they can set up their academic calendars.
“Repealing two mandatory public school holidays provides local school systems increased flexibility in meeting minimum requirements for the number of school days and school hours in the school year,” the legislation states.
Presidents Day and Easter Monday are among several mandated public school holidays. Others include Thanksgiving Day and the day after; Christmas Eve through Jan. 1; Martin Luther King Jr. Day; the Friday before Easter; Memorial Day; and primary and general election days in most Maryland counties.
Beidle’s bill is being considered by the state’s House Ways and Means Committee.
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