Killing the goose that lays the eggs — all of them.
Instead of “School leaders need a tourism lecture,” the sentence above — though it’s too long — could have been the headline of Mike Wagoner’s Sunday column in the News-Times.
He was writing about a proposal by two of the county’s seven-member Board of Education to start public school earlier than the General Assembly law specifying that school shall open on the Monday closest to Aug. 26.
The reason for this law is that starting school earlier than the date set by the General Assembly shortens summer vacation. And as Mr. Wagoner said: “Summer tourism adds millions of dollars to our local and state economies.”
Because reducing summer vacation time reduces family vacation time. Which severely impacts businesses that depend on summer vacationers.
This will eventually mean county property taxes will have to be raised because the tax receipts of businesses that cater to summer vacationers will be curtailed.
These businesses — hotels and motels and condominiums and houses that families rent for a few days, or a week or perhaps a month, along with restaurants and so many other businesses that depend on the summer vacation season — will see profits diminish. This holds true particularly for businesses on the coast and in the mountains, whether or not they’re in the tourism business.
The worst case scenario is many of these businesses that employ seasonal workers will fold. And there go the taxes.
Travis Day, school board chairman told the school administration to come up with a “modified year round calendar” allowing more flexibility, said News-Times staff writer Cheryl Burke at last Wednesday’s meeting.
Mr. Day, said Ms. Burke, said the calendar being used or being considered by a handful of other school systems “would allow the school year to start in early August and finish by Memorial Day” and allow students to take semester exams before the Christmas holidays.
“The calendar wouldn’t shorten the summer, but just shift the summer,” said Mr. Day. “It would not have students truly going year round. It would just be a shift in summer.”
Board member Kathryn Chadwick said the revised calendar would also allow students who graduate early to make a smoother transition into the community college system.
“Summer is summer,” wrote Mr. Wagoner. “You can’t just shift it around willy-nilly.”
Pointing out that 13 public school districts, representing 149 schools in the state “brazenly violated state law claiming their ‘optional summer school programs’ technically quality them as being ‘year-round,’” Mr. Wagoner said there are economic consequences when school districts decide to lop off one, two or even three weeks of the summer season. Indeed, there are!
If Carteret County implements a shortened summer vacation for its public school students, it will mean county property taxes will have to be raised. Because there will be shortfall in room taxes and taxes from businesses that depend on tourism.
Which Mr. Day and Ms. Chadwick obviously overlook. Or they aren’t concerned with this source of revenue.
They might ask business owners who are in the tourism business what they think, what would be the effect of a shortened vacation season.
Tourism is Carteret County’s main business. Tourism is the life blood of Carteret County. It used to be fishing, commercial fishing, and farming. Now it’s tourism.
Impact tourism and there will be huge economic consequences.