An editorial in The Baltimore Sun set off some concerns this week among those advocating for a state mandate that all school systems start the new school year the day after Labor Day. However, word is legislation is still expected to pass the Maryland General Assembly next year, no matter how the election shakes out in November.
In its editorial, initially posted online on Monday and printed Tuesday, The Sun continued its criticism of Comptroller Peter Franchot, champion of the later school date movement, “for his myopic view on the subject…” The opinion piece goes on to criticize the ongoing petition gathering effort that will reportedly be used by legislators to demonstrate state residents support the initiative.
The editorial reads, “Worse, the two-week-old petition effort may actually have picked up momentum thanks to a state task force — conveniently stacked with hospitality industry representatives and sympathetic lawmakers — that overwhelmingly endorsed a similar view in June. … 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 — for a far less consequential purpose. At a time when educators are dealing with major changes in curriculum, standardized testing and teacher evaluations to name just a few areas of reform and still face serious challenges in helping disadvantaged and minority children succeed, the last thing they need is this additional distraction to achieving their vital bottom line of better classes, better teaching, better learning for all.”
The editorial is troublesome on several fronts. One, it’s unfair to maintain the state-appointed task force was simply comprised of tourism industry representatives because it’s untrue. It was a fairly diverse group and included educators and parents with no ties to tourism. Secondly, it’s pathetic to think school systems across the state of Maryland cannot cope with their challenges in an adequate fashion by starting school a week later. In some cases, it’s important to note just four days need to be accounted for because some school systems were closed the Friday before Labor Day weekend.
I side more with Maryland Hotel and Lodging Association representative David Reel’s rebuttal to the editorial that appeared in yesterday’s issue of The Sun. It read in part, “They realized that by relatively minor adjustments to current school calendars such as reducing the number of in-service days, schools could start after Labor Day, absorb non scheduled closings due to snow or other bad weather and still wrap up for the summer well before the end of June. They realized there was no evidence presented showing that post-Labor Day school starts have a negative impact on student test scores and performance. They realized that tourism in Maryland generates significant amounts of tax revenue for the state and local governments and a post-Labor Day school start could generate even more tax revenue for the state and local governments.”
Worcester County was the only jurisdiction in Maryland to start the day after Labor Day this year, but I think the legislature will see fit to make this mandatory in the next session, despite what appears to be a growing effort to keep the status quo.
It certainly was not the nightmare that the new downtown comfort station was last year, but the new fire station in North Ocean City was another project that caused some headaches.
As a result of missing the completion date by about four months, the contractor for the job will most likely face some monetary damages because it did not meet the agreed upon schedule in its agreement with the city. The problems that plagued this project were similar to those affecting the comfort station catastrophe. Weather issues and subcontractor difficulties were cited this week as they were with the comfort station job.
The major difference here was the high-profile comfort station project was located at the heart of the Boardwalk and a constant inconvenience for many, while the fire station construction issues impacted next to nobody besides the emergency responders displaced during the work.
Ocean City should either remove the showers at the Inlet or install more.
Last Sunday, as seen in a photo on page 93, more than 150 people — mostly of Hispanic heritage — were shown waiting to use the four shower heads — two each at the two stations. This has been a common sight during the peak summer months in recent years.
What happens is most of the people rinse off after a day at the beach or cooking out in the Inlet parking lot (a common scene in July and August as well) and hit the Boardwalk for a bit or head home sand-free.
For better or worse, the Inlet has become the daytrippers’ beach on the weekends, and the existing facilities offered are completely inadequate for the demand at peak times. It’s a ridiculous sight to see, and Ocean City needs to add at least one more shower to address this growing problem.
If it’s a situation the city doesn’t want to allow to continue, then the showers should be removed.