Chamber has no position on school start date

NASHUA – The Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce has not taken a stance on whether it supports a post-Labor Day start to the school year for future academic terms, Tracy Hall, chamber CEO and president, said Friday.

Chamber officials were asked to review such as schedule’s merits by Henry Veilleux from Sheehan Phinney Capitol Group, a Concord-based lobbying firm. Veilleux approached the chamber last month to determine whether officials would consider supporting future legislation requiring K-12 public schools to start the school year after Labor Day, in part to help bolster the state’s tourism industry.

While chamber leaders took no stance on the matter, Hall said she recently invited Veilleux to brief the chamber board. After his presentation, chamber board members decided to forward the information to the Nashua Board of Education to determine the interest of school officials.

After an article detailing the calendar issue appeared in Friday’s edition of The Telegraph, Hall wanted to clarify the chamber had not made a formal request to the school board. Rather, she was seeking school officials’ input to then share as part of the chamber’s feedback to the lobbying firm.

Delaying the start of school until after Labor Day is not a new point of discussion in New Hampshire. Gov. Chris Sununu told media outlets last year he believed a delayed start made “good common sense” and that he was interested in a statewide discussion.

Tourism in the state, particularly in popular areas such as Mount Washington, began dropping dramatically in the middle of August, Sununu said at the time, as families became less likely to take vacations later in the month due to school starting earlier. Starting school after Labor Day, statewide, would allow residents to extend their summer vacations throughout the entire month of August.

However, during the Monday Nashua Board of Education meeting, members made it clear they are not interested in moving the start date of school beyond Labor Day. Reasons school officials cited for opposing such a change included:

 possible problems with labor contracts,

 the potential for losing more class time to snow days, and

 losing local control of the school calendar.

“I’m glad the board of education took a look at it and I’m happy to have that feedback,” Hall said Friday. “We have to do our due diligence.”

With any potential legislation, the chamber would likely not see any language until early next year, which could occur in conjunction with the next regular session of the New Hampshire Legislature.

Hannah LaClaire can be reached at 594-1243 or hlaclaire@nashuatelegraph.com.