OCEAN CITY, Md. — Citing the benefits to Maryland families, small businesses, teachers and tourism, Comptroller Peter Franchot kicked off a “Let Summer Be Summer” petition drive on the Ocean City Boardwalk to collect 10,000 signatures in support of a campaign to start Maryland public schools after Labor Day.
Joined by business owners, tourism officials and state and local legislators, the Comptroller plans to present the list of supporters to members of the Maryland General Assembly when they reconvene in January. “Let Summer Be Summer” petitions will be available at hotels, restaurants in Ocean City, Deep Creek Lake and at public fairs and festivals throughout the state.
“Busy families have so little time to spend together to build lifelong memories. Increasingly, the end-of-summer vacation no longer happens because of decisions to begin school a week, or even ten days, before Labor Day,” Comptroller Franchot said. “This not only cuts into one last chance for Marylanders to spend time together as a family, but it also negatively impacts small businesses throughout our state. We all need to do what we can to support small businesses and promote economic activity. To continue as we have causes unnecessary harm to our economy for no good reason.”
The “Let Summer Be Summer” campaign comes on the heels of a governor’s task force recommendation in late May that the state’s public schools delay opening until after Labor Day, a proposal that seeks to extend summer vacation for a week or more in many areas.
The state task force, which met for nearly a year, voted 11 to 4 to embrace a later start date statewide.
“Starting school after Labor Day would have a tremendous effect on the economy in Ocean City,” said Ocean City Mayor Richard W. Meehan. It would give visitors extra days at the ocean, with tourists staying at our local hotels and enjoying a great dinner at our fine restaurants while boosting the local economy at a time in late August and early September when they need it.”
Last August, Comptroller Franchot released an economic impact report completed by the Bureau of Revenue Estimates regarding a post Labor Day start date for all Maryland public schools which found that 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.
“Tourism is at the heart of our local economy,” said G. Hale Harrison, an Ocean City businessman. “Extending the start of school until after Labor Day pumps up business at our local hotels and restaurants and creates foot traffic at stores and businesses throughout Ocean City.”
The study also found that 8.5 percent of 514,680 affected families— those with school age children— would take either a new day trip or a new overnight trip to one of Maryland’s three top destinations— Baltimore City, Deep Creek Lake or Ocean City. Another 5.2 percent would take a new out-of-state day or overnight trip and the remaining families would devote at least one more day to a family recreational activity close to home. Earlier this year, Worcester County Public Schools voted to start school on September 2, 2014, the day after Labor Day, which the Comptroller praised.
“Summer gives teachers some much-needed time to recharge our batteries after the grind of the previous academic year,” said Leslie Beveridge, a third math grade teacher at Easton Elementary School. “Extending summer vacation until after Labor Day would give teachers and our families extra time to spend together to go to the beach or to take a day trip to one of Maryland historic sites or to visit any of the state’s fun tourists’ spots.”
Instead of reducing the 180-day school year, the Comptroller is confident the state’s school systems would be able to adjust their calendars throughout the academic year without losing time for instruction in the classroom.
“Maryland families save up a little each paycheck to spend one week each year in Ocean City, or at Deep Creek Lake or to enjoy the amenities at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor,” Comptroller Franchot said. “Let’s not cut short their summer opportunities to visit so many wonderful recreational, historic and entertainment destinations right here in Maryland and at the same time generate economic benefits for our small businesses Let Summer Be Summer!”
The petition is available online at the Comptroller’s Office website at: www.marylandtaxes.com.