A Baltimore County Public Schools bus. Image via Facebook.

The issue of school start times has been one of Maryland’s hottest political footballs in recent years.

Gov. Larry Hogan, with the support of Comptroller Peter Franchot, issued an executive order in 2016 that required schools to start after Labor Day and end before June 15. He heralded the move as a boon for tourist destinations in the state, like Ocean City, and said it “will help protect the traditional end of summer.”

Earlier this year, however, the Maryland General Assembly put an end to that, passing a bill to return the power of start dates to the individual school boards. Hogan vetoed the measure, but legislators overrode it.

With the ball back in their court, Baltimore County Public Schools is now putting democracy in action and asking the people for their thoughts about the calendar for the 2019-2020 school year.

The school system is presenting residents with two options: a calendar that starts before Labor Day, on Aug. 26, and one that starts after Labor Day, on Sept. 3. The school year would end for students on June 16 and June 22, respectively, in those two plans. To make the post-Labor Day start time work in the second scenario, the school system would have to cut into spring break, starting it on a Wednesday.

The county’s board of education will vote on the calendars at its June 11 meeting.

If polling is any indication, the option to start school after Labor Day will be the most popular choice. A Goucher Poll released shortly after Hogan made the change three years ago found that two-thirds of Marylanders supported the idea.

Brandon Weigel is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. A graduate of the University of Maryland, he has been published in The Washington Post, The Sun, Baltimore Magazine, Urbanite, The Baltimore...