Saturday, September 25, 2021

For now, Presidents’ Day is a Md. school holiday


Legislation now under consideration in the Maryland General Assembly would make complying with Gov Larry Hogan’s executive order that schools start after Labor Day and finish by June 15 every year a little easier for Maryland schools, the Washington Post reports.

Hogan at a press conference in Salisbury, Feb. 13 (Anthony DePanise / Maryland GovPics via Flickr CC)

The bill would make it optional for schools to give students the day off on Presidents’ Day and Easter Monday, both of which are now state-mandated school holidays in Maryland. In other words, the bill would add flexibility to state law and give schools a few more options when it comes to determining their calendars.

Since Labor Day moves around a little every year between September 2 and September 8 and because June 15 occurs on a Saturday or Sunday in two out of every seven years, on average, there are a total of between 201 and 205 weekdays between the day after Labor Day and June 15 every year for the next 10 years:

Day After Labor Day June 15 on New Year’s Day on Weekdays Available
Sept. 5, 2017 Friday Monday 204
Sept. 4, 2018 Saturday Tuesday 204
Sept. 3, 2019 Monday Wednesday 205
Sept. 8, 2020 Tuesday Friday 201
Sept. 7, 2021 Wednesday Saturday 202
Sept. 6, 2022 Thursday Sunday 203
Sept. 5, 2023 Saturday Monday 204
Sept. 3, 2024 Sunday Wednesday 204
Sept. 2, 2025 Monday Thursday 205
Sept. 8, 2026 Tuesday Friday 201

But the calendar math is a little tougher than that, because current state law requires that students have at least 180 days of school each year and that they have off on a few holidays or religious observances, including these:

  • Thanksgiving and the day after (2 days)
  • Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day (between 5 and 7 days)
  • Martin Luther King Day
  • Presidents’ Day
  • Good Friday and Easter Monday (2 days)
  • Memorial Day

That is, there’s a state-mandated deduction of between 12 and 14 weekdays, depending on whether New Year’s Day occurs on a Monday or Saturday (13), another weekday (14), or a Sunday (12). In some years, that could give schools just seven days to pick. School districts, especially those in Western Maryland, also have to build a number of snow days into the calendar.

The Post quoted a spokesperson for Mr Hogan as saying that instead of focusing on cancelling holidays, schools ought to focus on cancelling the number of teacher in-service days. However, many of these “days off for students but not teachers” occur outside the school year or at the end of grading periods, when teachers can probably use a day to catch up on their grading so students get their report cards.

Anyway, passage of this bill isn’t clear, but doing the math, I’m in favor of cutting anything that sounds like a state mandate, as I was when it came to the executive order in the first place, which definitely took authority away from local boards of education and placed it in the governor’s office. But since that happened, I can’t deny the wisdom of the executive order in terms of putting a stopper on the “calendar sprawl” bottle schools have developed over the years.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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