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Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot weighed in on Superintendent Michael Martirano’s notion of an extended school year, calling it “a terrible idea.”

Franchot (D) questioned Martirano about plans to adjust the public school calendar in St. Mary’s County to shorten the summer break during a meeting Wednesday on school construction funding in Annapolis.

Franchot said in an interview Thursday he is firmly against start a school year before Labor Day. “It’s mainly because of the kids,” he said, adding that summer break should not be shortened.

Traditionally school begins in St. Mary’s in late August, before Labor Day. Classes are tentatively set to begin on Aug. 21 next summer. Martirano has suggested that in future years classes could start in early August.

Earlier this month the superintendent announced a committee would begin looking at offering an extended school year calendar for all St. Mary’s public schools. Martirano said the proposal would likely mirror the Chesapeake Public Charter School’s calendar, which annually opens two weeks before other public schools in August and includes week-long breaks for students and teachers in October and February.

The superintendent said that working in extra breaks during the school year would be beneficial to students and teachers. He would not extend the number of school days, which will remain at 180, nor change the number of teacher days (190).

But heading back to school early, meaning a shorter summer break, does not sit well with the state’s comptroller. Franchot has fought against earlier school year starts, saying kids should remain enjoying “the dog days of summer” until after Labor Day.

He said that in addition to hardships for children, Maryland businesses will suffer with a shorter summer break as people look to Florida and other warmer climates to take fall r winter vacations.

“None of those taxes come to Maryland, I’ll promise you that,” Franchot said.

The tide is against Franchot, as all of the public school systems in the state have bumped up their first days in recent years. All schools were opened by the end of August this school year. The superintendent said he is not an advocate for starting school after Labor Day.

As for the impact on vacation businesses, Martirano said that not everyone can even afford vacations, and that many families can’t afford summer enrichment programs for their children. A shorter summer break is needed, he said, so that children will not regress as much academically.

He said other school systems are also looking at reconfiguring their calendars.

jyeatman@somdnews.com