Thinking about a long, lazy week at the beach with the kids before Labor Day?
Better do it soon if your children attend schools in Baltimore or in Howard or Anne Arundel counties. This year, schools open before Labor Day in those jurisdictions.
The reason for an early start in some places: Labor Day is late this year -- Sept. 7.
That means that some school systems had to choose between an early start or a school year extending well into June.
In the city, for example, the first day is Tuesday, Sept. 1, although teachers are to report the previous week and will be in the schools Aug. 31, getting things ready for the students' return.
The early start means that city students can complete the state-mandated 180 days of schooling by June 10, assuming the system loses no days because of the weather or emergencies.
Baltimore school officials are trying to make sure the early start doesn't catch parents by surprise, adding to the city's perennial attendance problems. Last year, about 11 percent of the city system's 110,000 pupils missed the opening day of school.
The situation is complicated by the fact that Baltimore has not opened school before Labor Day since Aug. 31, 1987.
"We know that there's a population of children that we have trouble getting to school the first week of school," said Karen V. Poe, spokeswoman for the Baltimore school system.
To make sure parents know about the early opening, the school system is sending a letter to all parents.
There will be public service announcements on local radio and television stations. And banners will be hung along major thoroughfares in the city.
Schools in Carroll, Harford and Baltimore counties all open after Labor Day this year.
WHEN SCHOOL OPENS
Public schools in the Baltimore metropolitan area open on the following dates:
* Anne Arundel County: Monday, Aug. 31.
* Baltimore City: Tuesday, Sept. 1.
* Baltimore County: Tuesday, Sept. 8.
* Carroll County: Tuesday, Sept. 8.
* Harford County: Tuesday, Sept. 8.
* Howard County: Monday, Aug. 31.