The Michigan legislature is considering changing the law that prevents public school districts from beginning its school year prior to Labor Day. The Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds (MARVAC), among others, is rallying support to defeat HB 4396.
“The MEA (Michigan Education Association) is pushing it because they lost 10 years ago, and they’ve lost twice since then. They want to undo all the good that we’ve had the last 10 years,” said Tim DeWitt, MARVAC executive director.
With strong support from MARVAC and others in the state’s tourism and hospitality industry, the law was enacted for the 2006-07 school year. DeWitt said a study at the time indicated 65% of Michigan residents preferred to “extend their summer vacation” and require schools to start their calendar years no sooner than Labor Day.
But in the last few years there has been a push, primarily from some school districts and the MEA, to repeal that restriction. As recently as 2013, 37 school districts were granted a waiver to start prior to Labor Day.
Michigan campground owners said their business definitely would be negatively impacted if the law were to be repealed.
“It wouldn’t be the end of the world, but it would affect us drastically and I know it would affect others even more,” said Bob Rohn, owner of Lake of Dreams Campground in Merrill, Mich., a 250-site, 16-year-old park near Saginaw Bay. “What I mean is, we’ll still get campers for Labor Day Weekend, but what we won’t have are the campers who stay the week leading up to Labor Day Weekend. As soon as school starts, it dries up. Were okay on the weekends, but once school starts it’s like a ghost town during the week.”
DeWitt said the next step for HB 4396 is a short-notice hearing on April 30 in Lansing. He said MARVAC will be on hand to testify, but he also urged people to contact their state representative and tell them HB 4396 “is not going to work. It’s going to hurt Michigan.”
“We need you to ask your representative to contact members of the House Education Committee and request that they vote against this bill,” MARVAC stated in an email alert. “If your legislator sits on the Education Committee, they need to know that HB 4396 will most certainly reduce economic outcomes, jobs and the many contributions tourism makes to a stronger state economy.”