I’m not sure I agree with an editorial I read earlier this week in a Baltimore area newspaper.
The newspaper took on the effort of State Comptroller Peter Franchot to have more counties if not all school jurisdictions stay open until after Labor Day.
The line that got to me in the editorial was a rather snarky, “The financial reward of a few more rounds of skee-ball or an extra serving of Thrasher’s French fries pales compared to the economic impact of whether schools are adequately teaching their students.
Perhaps for the other jurisdictions of Maryland, starting school after Labor Day isn’t a correct move. But the decision-making should be at the local level by elected Board of Education members. Worcester County Board of Education members supported the decision to open schools after Labor day for this year. Since they have local control on the subject, who knows what they will decide next year. For the previous five school years, Worcester County has started prior to Labor Day. And the later the system goes in June, the greater the economic impact for the start of summer. So these days impact either at the beginning or the end of the school year.
Still, we’re in Ocean City, and when the weather gets colder outside, more restaurants and hotels will close. Indeed, we’re told that about 65 of the resort’s 200-plus restaurants lock up later in the fall for the winter months.
For the newspaper to connect the adequate teaching of our students to the economy of an “extra serving of Thrasher’s French fries” is at best myopic. And look, I’m not trying to go “it’s us against the rest of the state on you,” but Worcester County has one of the state’s best school systems. For the smaller amount of students here compared to many larger school systems, we had two high school engineering teams send robots to international competitions last year.
And they were able to do that even with the French fries and ski-ball.
Also, the county has a representative share of AP students, sending high graduates to some of the nation’s best colleges.
Ocean City is not Baltimore, and it’s not Rockville. It is for weeks of the year, the state’s tourism centerpiece. The taxes collected go to help Worcester County and for that matter the State of Maryland. If Worcester County needs to keep its young working on Labor Day to help everyone, I can almost promise you that the test scores, the graduation rates and the excellence will be right with the other jurisdictions who start school a week earlier.
Yes, we did have snow days last year, but the County managed those days so that the students and faculty were able to begin their vacations with little or no penalty.
The editorial went on to say “Let school systems decide this issue for themselves. If some honestly believe that a late start is either helpful or at least unharmful to education, then fine. But don’t interfere with the real economic engine of Maryland – creating better opportunities for the next generation through quality education.”
To suggest that is happening in Worcester County School, because it chose to start a day after Labor Day, is simply wrong.
Because Ocean City is the resort capital of the state, it has a higher in-season employment rate than off-season. Come the winter, we will see double-digit unemployment here. And that’s an entirely different story.
But for now, extending the summer a day or a week will not set back the school board, faculties and students of where Ocean City area residents find employ or attend.
By the way, Worcester County might be the vacation center of Maryland and employ thousands of help. But the biggest year-around employer here in Worcester County is the school system with 1,178 employees.
Some of the kids who attend those schools sell tickets for ski-ball and fill containers with French fries.
They seem to be doing all right.