The 2023-24 School Year Calendar: A Highly Debated and Complicated Issue

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Frederick County Public Schools

The BOE’s proposed school year calendar shows a start date of August 9, 2023.

Catherine Brennan, Editor-In-Chief

When the Frederick County Public School’s Board of Education (BOE) unveiled their proposed 2023-24 calendar at the October 27 meeting, there was an uproar from the public, specifically about the proposed start date of August 9, 2023. 

 

At first glance, this date seems absurd: if approved, it would be one of the earliest start dates in the DMV, let alone the state of Maryland. The much needed summer break that students, teachers, and families use to take vacations seems to be cut short. Ronnie Beard, a teacher and indoor track coach at Oakdale described his initial reaction: “I was shocked at first…just by looking at it.” 

 

Many even felt that this year’s August 18 start was too early, so it is no surprise that there was an extreme public reaction following the Oct. 27 meeting. 

 

There are various reasons to oppose the proposed start date, but one of the most prevalent is that student and teacher morale takes a hit when the school year has an early start. Freshman Emily Lockard explained how she felt with the start this year: “Personally [an early start] wasn’t motivating for me because it’s like, well my summer’s over, now I have to go back to school.”

Personally [an early start] wasn’t motivating for me because it’s like, well my summer’s over, now I have to go back to school.”

— Emily Lockard

The length of summer is another topic often discussed by those who oppose the start date. It is argued that starting early will shorten the much needed break in between school years, which typically falls between mid-June and mid to late August. This isn’t necessarily true, given the fact that the summer won’t be shorter, just shifted, but that still doesn’t soften the blow of such an early start.

 

As a senior who has experienced both early and late starts, I understand how starting early affects how the student body feels. Many students aren’t refreshed, and dread school even more than they typically do. Unsurprisingly, the proposal clearly doesn’t take the opinion of the student body into consideration.

 

The clearest example of this is that the calendar seems to be centered around AP testing schedules: the school year will end shortly after testing. While this configuration has its benefits, such as giving more time for spring semester AP instruction and eliminating the “lull” post-test, it still doesn’t seem worth such an early start.

 

Furthermore, it is a commonly shared opinion that testing shouldn’t be the main focus of school in the first place, especially when it comes to setting up the calendar. “I feel like [the calendar] shouldn’t be tailored to just the test. It should be what’s best for the students, and the whole school as one,” Lockard voiced.

 

It is clear that the school year 2023-24 calendar is a debated topic, with both sides presenting compelling arguments for and against it. This debate will likely continue, and for now, all that can be done as students, parents, and teachers, is to use our voices and trust that the BOE will make the right decision for our schools.

Visit https://pubforms.fcps.org/view.php?id=86439 to voice your opinion by Friday, Dec. 3.