Recently the Brainerd Dispatch published an editorial advocating for school districts to choose their starting date instead of abiding by the state law that requires K-12 schools to start after Labor Day. While the Dispatch references the 2005 bill amendment, this issue has been debated for decades, and Post Labor Day school start continues to be important to Minnesota.
Tourism business is still the primary source of economic prosperity in the Brainerd lakes area and an earlier starting date will negatively affect our business community. In these challenging economic times, the last thing we need to do is decrease business activity.
Increased learning outcomes are compatible with Minnesota's tradition of summer. Our state relies on the sales tax revenue from late summer travel and our businesses rely not only on sales revenue, but also on the seasonal employment of high school students.
The chamber's board of directors supports a post-Labor Day school start. I also serve on the Governor's Explore Minnesota Tourism Council, a 28 member group of diverse tourism representatives from throughout Minnesota supporting a post-Labor Day school start.
There is no research that substantiates that an earlier starting date will result in greater student achievement. School districts are free to set their calendar any way they choose to improve student achievement - as long as they start after Labor Day. There are many reforms proposed for K-12 education that can be accomplished with the current law: all day-every day kindergarten, longer school days, increasing the number of education days per year, consolidation of calendars among school districts, and many more. Reforms that compliment students, families, and the many businesses that depend on the current school calendar can be accomplished.
Let's investigate other tools to increase learning outcomes - changing the existing law is not necessary to make progressive change in Minnesota's educational achievement rates.
LISA PAXTON is CEO of the Brainerd Lakes Chamber.
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