CONCORD — A new report from a governor’s commission on starting school after Labor Day states doing so could bring $20.3 million more in tourist spending to the Granite State.
The Save Our Summers Study Commission, created by an executive order this summer to assess requiring schools start their year after Labor Day, submitted its report to Gov. Chris Sununu Nov. 29 and made its findings public this week. It gave no recommendation but provided economic data that commission members believe shows starting school before Labor Day hurts businesses.
“(The report) will serve as a roadmap for policymakers as they consider and debate whether schools should start before or after Labor Day,” Sununu said.
Commissioners found moving the school year’s first day past Labor Day would bring $14.3 million to $20.3 million more in tourism expenditures to the state, as well as $24.1 million to $34.2 million more in total economic impacts.
The commission was made up of stakeholders from education officials to business community members. Hampton Beach Village District Chairman Chuck Rage, a member of the commission, said starting school after Labor Day is preferable for businesses.
Rage also pointed out that many teachers take on summer jobs at places like Hampton Beach and that extending the school year would benefit educators looking to keep working through Labor Day.
“I think it’s a no-brainer,” Rage said. He added post-Labor Day school year starts are in place in New York and have shown to be a success for business communities there.
The percentage of public school students starting the school year after Labor Day has declined by half since 1999, according to the report. That decline, the report says, is linked to slower growth for rooms and meals spending since 1990 in July, August and September than in other months.
While business community members expressed strong support for a state requirement that school begins after Labor Day, the report said local school officials, administrators and collective bargaining groups opposed the proposed requirement’s impact on local control.
John Croteau, president of the Seacoast Education Association, which represents teachers at schools in Hampton and other towns, said whether school begins before or after Labor Day is less a concern for teachers than whether the decision is made locally. Teachers are obligated to work a certain number of days whether they start in August or September, and a later start only means a later finish.
“It’s like cutting off the bottom of a blanket, sowing it back on at the top and saying you’ve got more blanket,” Croteau said. “Some teachers are going to be, you know, put out by it. Some teachers are going to love it. It’s just an individual thing.”