By Peter Franchot, Comptroller of Maryland
Anne Arundel County Public Schools officials currently are analyzing feedback from a recent survey to help them best determine the 2020/2021 school year calendar. As they analyze the results and debate, I would like to take a moment to share highlights of a recent economic impact study independently conducted by the Business Economic and Community Outreach Network (BEACON) at Salisbury University.
According to the study, starting school after Labor Day has “a clear, positive impact on both state and local government economies” with a total net economic impact of up to $115 million.
The report, entitled “The Economic, Employment and Fiscal Impacts Of Added Summer Vacation Days Attributable To Post-Labor Day Opening of Maryland’s Public K-12 Schools,” echoes an economic impact study conducted by the Maryland Bureau of Revenue Estimates in 2013, which forecasts a significant increase in state and local tax revenues and wages resulting from a post-Labor Day school start date.
This analysis validates what we already know: Starting school after Labor Day is good for Maryland families, good for our local businesses and good for the Maryland economy. At a time when the Maryland General Assembly is considering new sources of revenue for our public schools, starting school after Labor Day adds millions of dollars to our state’s coffers, all while supporting great family-owned, small businesses and sustaining summer employment.
BEACON’s analysis found a total net economic impact — incorporating direct, indirect and induced benefits — of close to $58 million for six additional days of summer vacation and nearly $115 million for 12 extra days, depending upon when Labor Day falls on the calendar each year.
Additionally, the report estimates additional wages earned by workers to be between $2.875 million and $5.75 million during the final days of summer, with local and state government revenues increasing between $8 million and $16 million, also depending upon the timing of Labor Day.
The study’s findings are based on estimates that approximately 70% of all tourism-related expenditures statewide can be attributed to Maryland residents and data from tourism offices that show a majority of end-of-summer travel by Marylanders occurs within the state.
Tourism is the state’s 10th largest employment industry, supporting more than 200,000 jobs and producing over $15 billion, which represents 4% of the state’s total economy.
The nonpartisan task force, created by the Maryland General Assembly and appointed by then-Governor Martin O’Malley, recommended a post-Labor Day start by a vote of 12-to-3 in May 2014 after meeting for nearly a year to consider all aspects of the issue.
Public support for starting school after Labor Day has been strong and consistent throughout Maryland among teachers, parents and the business and agricultural community. More than 24,000 Marylanders signed the “Let Summer Be Summer” petition in 2016 — endorsing the initiative that has given families more time together, provided teachers and students with a longer break to recharge without impacting summer learning loss, and afforded rural Marylanders the opportunity to participate in the Maryland State Fair, which runs the 10 days prior to Labor Day each year.
In addition, our schools’ start dates were creeping further and further into August. Add in two or more weeks prior to these start dates for team sports tryouts and practice, this meant families were losing nearly all of August to spend time together and for students to recharge for the new school year.
A longer, predictable summer break is also important to educators and school staff members who take on summer jobs to supplement their income and to complete additional educational opportunities. Summer employment for our teens teaches them skills and responsibilities that provide valuable work experience for their professional lives. For some families in our state, summer student employment is critical supplemental income to a family’s budget.
I am a lifelong supporter of strong public education for our families. I have voted on billions of dollars in education spending between my many years as a state delegate and now as comptroller on the Board of Public Works. To have a strong public school system we must have a strong economy – we cannot have one without the other. We must prepare our children to become productive contributors to our economy.