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Bill would allow school to start before Labor Day

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MICHIGAN (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – Summer break may get shorter in Michigan if a new bill is signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder.

The bill would allow school districts to start the school year before Labor Day, but not everyone is on board.

Businesses that rely on tourism dollars are largely against the bill. Some business owners say if the school year starts earlier, it could impact forty percent of their business, which would force them to cut jobs.

Nicki Polan, with the Michigan Boating Industries Association, represents 60,000 marine employees in Michigan. She’s fighting the bill that State Senator Marty Knollenberg is trying to pass. That bill would allow school districts to open their doors before Labor Day.

It’s an issue for Polan’s clients because she says when the school season starts, the boating season stops.

“The spending on fuel, and service, and repair, and party stores, and restaurants, and bait and tackle, all the things people actually spend money on and having fun with their family, that stops as well,” said Polan.

Senator Knollenberg, R-Troy, says school superintendents want flexibility to start school earlier to accommodate more school days.

“If school administrators, superintendents, and parents, if they all feel starting before Labor Day is in their best interest, we should allow them to do that,” said Sen. Knollenberg.

Several superintendents backed up Knollenberg in committee, but one business owner says his hotels in West Michigan would see a forty percent drop in revenue if schools begin before Labor Day.

Star Line is also concerned about the bills because less people may travel to Mackinac Island.

“We are hearing today from a number of industries that July and August are the top generating months of the entire year,” said Polan. “So to take that time away at the end of the summer right before Labor Day is going to hurt a lot more than it would to take it away at the end of June.”

Senator Knollenberg is hoping to strike a deal with the tourism industry by requiring school districts to not have school on any Mondays or Fridays in August.

“The tourism industry will still get a four-day weekend,” said Sen. Knollenberg. “I think that is a fair compromise.”

The bill may be halted in the House. That’s because starting the school year earlier is a sore subject with lawmakers from northern Michigan who want to see Michigan’s multi-billion-dollar tourism industry thrive.

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