- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed an executive order Wednesday that will require schools in the state to start after Labor Day and end by June 15, beginning in the 2017-2018 school year.

“Starting Maryland public schools after Labor Day is not just a family issue – it’s an economic and public safety issue that draws clear, strong, bipartisan support among an overwhelming majority of Marylanders,” Mr. Hogan said in a statement. “Comptroller [Peter] Franchot and I believe, and the people of Maryland strongly agree, that this Executive Order puts the best interests of Marylanders first, especially the well-being of our students. This action is long overdue, and it is simply the right thing to do.”

The governor announced the order on the Ocean City Boardwalk, a tourist attraction. He was joined by Mr. Franchot, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan, Sen. James Mathias, Delegate Mary Beth Carozza and others.

Students are required to attend school for 180 days under state law.

“This sensible, long-overdue adjustment of Maryland’s public school calendar will be a lifeline for those small, locally-owned businesses that are the backbone of our state’s economy and have struggled in the midst of the slowest economic recovery in our nation’s history. It will generate new state revenues that can be reinvested in our classrooms and for other vital priorities. It will spare tens of thousands of teachers, students and school employees from having to return to sweltering, unhealthy classrooms in the hottest days of August,” Mr. Franchot said in the statement.

“And finally, it will give families throughout our state time to enjoy those final days of summer the way they were meant to be enjoyed, whether it is taking that final vacation to the beach or the lake, visiting the Inner Harbor or catching an Orioles game, enjoying an evening at the Maryland State Fair, or just relaxing a bit at home,” the comptroller said. “As a father myself, I know that kids grow up far too fast and the time that families have together, in this day and age, goes by in an instant. The action taken today by Governor Hogan will give our families the priceless gift of time, and for that I am personally grateful.”

Some Baltimore County schools have been struggling without air conditioning in the recent 90-degree temperatures, so the county school board voted on Tuesday to change its policy.

“Schools that lack air conditioning now may remain open unless the heat index is forecast to reach 90 degrees by 11 a.m. If the heat index is expected to reach 90 degrees by 3 p.m., parents may keep their children home and get an excused absence,” The Baltimore Sun reported.

“The original policy required officials to close schools if the heat index was forecast to hit 90 at any point in the day. The board voted 8-3 to change it,” the newspaper said.

• Maria Stainer can be reached at mstainer@washingtontimes.com.

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