In what could be a preview of a campaign theme in an expected 2014 run for governor, Comptroller Peter Franchot suggested the state should return to the days when public schools didn't reopen until after Labor Day.

Using his seat on the Board of Public Works as a platform, the comptroller urged the state and its 24 jurisdictions to consider the advantages of pushing the current August start of the fall semester into September.

"I'm not sure why all these things began to change and why," Franchot said.

The comptroller said a later opening would let families enjoy the last days of summer together and give a boost to small businesses -- especially those who employ summer seasonal workers.

Franchot said he's not suggesting a shorter school year, but he believes school systems could rearrange their calendars to provide the minimum 180 days of instruction without the August start. Among those who would benefit, he said, are businesses in Ocean City and at Deep Creek Lake.

While education policy is not generally in the purview of the comptroller, Franchot has been taking an expansive view of his role as he looks forward to 2014, when his Democratic Party will choose a nominee to replace Gov. Martin O'Malley, who can't run again.