For the Cumberland Times-News
ANNAPOLIS — Citing the benefits to Maryland families, small businesses and tourism overall, Comptroller Peter Franchot Thursday released the economic impact report completed by the Bureau of Revenue Estimates regarding a post Labor Day start date for all Maryland public schools.
Alongside Ocean City Mayor Richard Meehan, state Sen. James N. Mathias Jr. and numerous members of the local business community, Franchot said a delayed school start in Maryland would result in an additional $74.3 million in direct economic activity, including $3.7 million in new wages and a separate $7.7 million in state and local revenue.
“The chance for families to spend precious time together and to build lifelong memories during that final, end-of-summer vacation has been lost by the decision to begin school a week, or even 10 days, before Labor Day,” said Franchot. “Not only does this cut into the opportunity for Marylanders to spend more time together as a family, but it also has a negative impact on small businesses. In these tough economic times, we need to do all that we can to support small businesses and promote economic activity, not cause unnecessary harm to them for no apparent reason.”
With nationally renowned vacation destinations like Ocean City, Deep Creek Lake and Baltimore’s InnerHarbor, tourism is the fourth largest industry in the state. Because Maryland has been welcoming more than 32 million domestic travelers annually in recent years, the tourism sector employs more than 340,000 Marylanders.
While Labor Day weekend in Maryland is most commonly associated with family trips to resort destinations, it also coincides with other major events occurring throughout the state, including the Maryland State Fair in Timonium, the Grand Prix of Baltimore and four weeknight home games at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Instead of reducing the 180-day school year, the comptroller said he is confident that the state’s school systems would be able to adjust their calendars throughout the academic year without losing time for instruction in the classroom.
The flexibility of adjusting winter and spring breaks or eliminating some of the school closure dates scattered throughout the school calendar would be left to the each of Maryland’s 24 school systems.