I spent this past Labor Day weekend in Ocean City, and had an absolutely splendid end-of-summer getaway. The sun was shining bright, the waves were crashing, and the crabs were jumbo-sized! However, what stood out for me was the large number of tourists, particularly the number of families with school-aged children, that were there to grab one more slice of the season by the seashore before classes resumed.

This was all made possible because of Gov. Larry Hogan's executive order at the end of summer 2016. On Aug. 31 last year, the governor, with Comptroller Peter Franchot at his side, ordered Maryland public schools to start after Labor Day, beginning in 2017, and that schools must let students out no later than June 15. His order would increase the summer break for some students as much as two weeks. The governor made this executive order with the idea that it would give children more time to enjoy their summer, give seasonal employees more time to make some extra income, and most importantly, help improve our economic climate here in our state — especially for tourist towns.


Official tourism numbers will not be released for a month or two, but I imagine that Ocean City will see a large increase in the money brought in this season as compared to the last. I took an informal survey and asked a few small business employees how they thought the extended summer was going. One local grocery clerk said that she had never seen this many families down at the beach this late in the season. A young server at a restaurant told me that by this point in the summer typically, he and many other staff members would have been sent home due to the decline in tourists. There is no doubt in my mind that both business owners and employees are ecstatic about the extended summer.

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It was not only Ocean City that reaped the benefits from school stating after Labor Day this year. The Maryland State Fair, held this year between Aug. 24 and Sept. 4, saw an unprecedented number of attendees. Overall attendance increased by 20 percent as compared to 2016's fair. It was the third-best attendance in its entire history. The assistant general manager of the State Fair was more than happy to give credit to the post-Labor Day school start for this year's success.

Unfortunately, not everyone was thrilled with the late start of the 2017-2018 school year. Some have cried that an extended summer only gives children more time to sit idle and forget everything they learned during the prior school year. Some have argued that starting school later will put a financial strain on families who pay for child care throughout the summer. Many public school administrations have complained that it is extremely difficult to pack 180 school days into the newly revised calendar. One individual has even gone as far as to say that by starting school after Labor Day, students will die. The CEO of Baltimore City schools, Sonja Brookins Santelises stated that the delayed start was, "For particular kids, it's life or death." I cannot disagree that Baltimore City has seen an uncanny number of homicides this year. However, to claim that by starting school on Sept. 5 this year, as compared to Aug. 29 last year, will result in bloodshed in the streets, is just a tad bit of hyperbole.

Thankfully, the governor did not move forward with his executive order without taking these worries into consideration. In fact, prior to Gov. Hogan's initial announcement, a task force was put together by the General Assembly to look at the academic and economic ramifications of extending summer break. The task force concluded that an extra $74.3 million would come through Maryland, giving our state economy a boost and furthermore, that there would be no negative academic repercussions. In addition, Gov. Hogan has allowed the State Board of Education to grant waivers to specific schools and counties. Allegany and Garrett county schools, as well as four Baltimore City schools received waivers, allowing them to open their classrooms a week before Labor Day and the rest of the state.

Overall, the response to Gov. Hogan's mandate to start school after Labor Day has been positive. Parents are getting a few extra days to splash around the pool with their children. Young men and women are receiving one or two additional paychecks from their summer jobs. Business owners are seeing more customers than usual come through their doors. On a more personal note, it has given me fewer days to impatiently sit behind a school bus on my morning commute!

Christopher Tomlinson writes from Hampstead. Reach him at CCTtomlinson@gmail.com.