Commissioner criticizes pre-Labor Day school start Brown complains date interfered with vacations

September 23, 1998|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

Carroll County's pre-Labor Day school start drew strong criticism yesterday from Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown, who complained the date interfered with vacations and end-of-summer celebrations associated with the holiday.

"The dog days are the best times for vacations," Brown said yesterday at a meeting between the Board of Education and the County Commissioners. "The ocean is the warmest, and the crabs are the sweetest."

Brown also complained that the schools adopted the pre-Labor Day start to accommodate teachers.

"Scores of people have said to me, 'Why don't the County Commissioners do something about this?' " said Brown, who was defeated in his bid to win a seat in the General Assembly in last week's primary.

Schools opened Aug. 24

Schools started Aug. 24, two weeks before Labor Day. Carroll schools chose to open earlier to compensate for four days that will be lost this fall -- two to religious holidays and two to elections.

Board members and school officials were quick to defend the practice of starting earlier, which began five years ago.

Dorothy D. Mangle, assistant superintendent of instruction, said student attendance tends to be better in August than in June.

"They're energized, they tend to be more involved in learning than in June when they tend to be just tired," said Mangle.

Board member Joseph D. Mish, a retired teacher, agreed.

"After Memorial Day, you've lost them," Mish said.

Brown told school officials they should allow parents to participate in developing the school calendar.

Mangle pointed out that parents are permitted to comment on the calendar for the next school year when it is presented to the board in the fall. The calendar for 1999-2000 will be made available to the board at its Oct. 14 meeting.

Parents for early start

Superintendent William H. Hyde said a survey of 500 parents conducted by the school system two years ago found that 90 percent favored the pre-Labor Day start.

Another matter raised by Brown related to student parking fees at high school lots. The fees at the five county high schools range from $5 to $10 per semester or year.

Brown proposed that students who drive pay an annual $50 fee. He suggested that the money collected could be used for projects that are routinely excluded from the school board's capital budget. He mentioned the repaving of athletic tracks.

"I really think if young people choose to drive their cars to school, they should pay for the privilege," Brown said.

Board members agreed to ask the superintendent to talk to high school principals about the possibility of raising parking fees.

Pub Date: 9/23/98

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