Skubick: Fight reignites over school year opening before Labor Day

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Now that lawmakers have resolved the snow day issue for Michigan schools, a House committee has adopted a plan giving the schools the option to open before Labor Day but the tourism industry will fight to kill the measure. 

Republican Sen. Wayne Schmidt claims, “I’m willing to listen and hear all the sides involved.”

But he adds, “I’m not there yet.”

But Democrat State Representative Steve Johnson sees that as progress. “That’s good. That’s further then we were last session. We’ll take that.”

A House committee has sent to the floor legislation to give schools the option to open school before labor day.

The tourism industry fought for years to block schools from opening before Labor Day, arguing that if kids are in school, tourists are not on the links, not eating fudge on Mackinac Island and not spending their money out on the waterways.

Senator Schmidt,  from tourist busy Traverse City, says the schools get more money if more tourism dollars are spent.

“Those tourism jobs are very very important economic drivers,” says the senator. “That’s not to say that a student’s education isn’t more important but if we want good schools, we need a good tax base. We need to have thriving businesses. We need a strong tourism industry which means we get more money for schools.”

Rep. Johnson argues schools are already open in August with football practice and marching band practice, so why not give the schools this option.

Plus, by starting school early when rough weather hits in the winter, schools won’t have to worry about this.

“Currently they have to go way into June and its very hard to keep the kids attention after Memorial Day,” adds Rep. Johnson. “It’s easier to start before Labor Day.”

So far, the tourism industry has been winning this battle over when the kids start school.

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