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SBAM Opposes Changes to Post Labor Day School Start Date

December 12, 2009

Both the House and Senate are working on bills that make educational reforms that will allow the state to potentially qualify for federal money.  For the most part, these reforms are a positive step toward improving education in our state.  However, one provision would have removed the prohibition on starting classes before Labor Day.

Last week, SBAM expressed its opposition to this provision of the legislation.  Because tourism is such an important segment of our Michigan economy, we have been a long-time supporter of legislation that prohibits schools from starting prior to Labor Day.  Schools were starting earlier and earlier which shortened and had a negative effect on the summer tourism season.  A few years ago, we were finally successful in these efforts.

It has been argued that the change is needed in order to qualify for “Race to the Top” (the name of the federal program) funding.  Apparently, to be eligible for the funding, poor performing schools must have flexibility in their scheduling to potentially allow for longer school years.

Because of the efforts of SBAM and other groups that are heavily reliant on tourism, the sponsor of the bill changed the legislation to reflect our concerns.  The bill passed the House this week to include compromise language that would only allow those schools that are among the lowest 5 percent with regard to school performance to start before Labor Day.

The Senate bill did not have any language concerning school start dates.  So the bill now goes to a Conference Committee to iron out the differences.  We are working with the Senate to ensure that tourism in Michigan is protected.

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