Jury is in: Start school after Labor Day [Letter]

September 03, 2014

A post-Labor Day start for Maryland public schools is a very good idea ("Late start a non-starter," Sept. 2). It is also the recommendation of a state task force appointed by Gov. Martin O'Malley and which included public school teachers, parents of students in public elementary, middle and high schools as well as members of the General Assembly.

Much like members of a jury, task force members gave full consideration to the positions of supporters and opponents of this concept. For almost nine months, they met, reviewed and discussed every position presented. After considering all the facts, a super-majority of task force members approved a recommendation supporting a post-Labor Day school start for all public schools in Maryland.

They realized that by relatively minor adjustments to current school calendars such as reducing the number of in-service days, schools could start after Labor Day, absorb non-scheduled closings due to snow or other bad weather and still wrap up for the summer well before the end of June.

They realized there was no evidence presented showing that post-Labor Day school starts have a negative impact on student test scores and performance. They realized that tourism in Maryland generates significant amounts of tax revenue for the state and local governments and a post-Labor Day school start could generate even more tax revenue for the state and local governments.

A report done by the state comptroller forecasts the net effect of a post Labor Day school start in Maryland is an additional $74.3 million in direct economic activity including $3.7 million in new wages and $7.7 million in state and local tax revenue.

They realized this increased state and local tax revenue would occur without a tax increase on Maryland residents and could be used by the state and local governments to help fund essential public services including but not limited to schools, teachers and state-of-the-art classroom technology.

Last, but certainly not least, members realized that without a post-Labor Day school start, Maryland families will continue to miss what many fondly remember and many need in today's increasingly busy world — an opportunity to spend quality family time together in the final weeks of summer leading up to Labor Day.

A post-Labor Day school start for public schools in Maryland is not only a very good idea, it is also a very good idea whose time has come.

David Reel, Annapolis

The writer is president and CEO of the Maryland Hotel & Lodging Association.

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