SANDUSKY, Ohio – Amusement park and water park operators have an idea that few school kids would oppose.
They want the state to delay the start of school until after Labor Day to help businesses that rely on tourism.
"It makes sense for families and tourism," said John Hildebrandt, vice president and general manager of Cedar Point.
In recent years with schools starting earlier in August, Cedar Point has noticed a drop off in attendance during what once was its busiest time, he said.
School districts in Michigan began classes after Labor Day this year after lawmakers required the later start.
Education groups opposed the move, but tourism officials said it was needed to help businesses hurt by the 2001 terrorist attacks and higher gas prices.
As a result, Cedar Point saw an increase in visitors from Michigan in late August.
So did some water parks in northern Ohio.
"We saw additional rooms from Michigan because they have done that very thing — start school after Labor Day," said Sarah Wysong-Miller, director of sales and marketing at Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky. "Those last two weeks, most Ohio schools were back in school."
Ohio school districts determine when they go back to school so state lawmakers would have to pass a law to change the start date for all schools, said J.C. Benton, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Education.
Schools are required to be in session 180 days.
Sandusky School Board President Faith Denslow said teachers determine when to start school. "What we are up against is tradition," she said. "Staff, students and parents are used to having a certain number of days for spring break and Christmas break."
A survey by the Ohio Travel Association found that its members favor an extended summer break, said Jennifer Poleon, a spokeswoman for the group.
"You have people who are so time deprived today," Poleon said. "You actually want that little bit of extra time."
The Sandusky/Erie County Visitor Convention Bureau is considering whether to push for Ohio schools to begin classes after Labor Day.
Rep. Chris Redfern introduced legislation a year ago to start school the Tuesday after Labor Day. But the bill only had one hearing because the education community opposed it.