Tourism Officials To Discuss School Start With Super

OCEAN CITY – Local tourism officials will discuss the benefits of having schools open after Labor Day with the Worcester County Public Schools Superintendent next month.

During last Monday afternoon’s Tourism Commission Meeting Michael James, Carousel Hotel and Resort managing partner and Ocean City Economic Development Committee (EDC) Chairman reported the EDC will be meeting in February with Superintendent of Worcester County Public Schools Dr. Jerry B. Wilson.

The commission is interested in what the superintendent’s official opinion is over the current proposed legislation to have Maryland public schools start the school year after Labor Day, but it’s not a secret most school officials opposed a shift in the calendar, according to one ranking tourism official.

“Every superintendent is against it,” said Greg Shockley, chairman of the Maryland Tourism Development Board and serves on the task force considering starting the school year after Labor Day. “They are a very stubborn group of people … They won’t budge, and if they got what they wanted school would be session year-round. We have gotten a lot of grief from the superintendents that if it is so important to Worcester County why don’t we start post-labor day.”

Maryland state school districts have the option to start school after Labor Day but none currently do. State school districts must have 180 days of instruction and include certain holidays on the school calendar.

“They want their hands on kids as many days as possible,” Shockley said. “They don’t understand the shift … just move the days. They feel their system is working in the right direction and tinkering in moving the start date post labor day will undue something … their ultimate argument is it will affect the children … we have no desire to affect the children.”

Mayor Rick Meehan asked for the matter to be discussed with Wilson during the EDC meeting.

“If you don’t say anything, we have said nothing, …,” Meehan said.

Shockley listed a number of elected officials that are in support of the proposed legislation, such as Senator Jim Mathias and Delegate Anne Healey.

“We have the votes to do it, so it is going to happen,” he said.

At the next meeting in February, the task force will reportedly provide additional opportunity for public testimony and will vote again to forward a favorable recommendation to the governor.