The Saskatchewan Party's promise to change the school year to start after the Labour Day long weekend is not sitting well with organizations that represent teachers and school boards.
The party said if it wins the provincial election, it will introduce legislation mandating that classes cannot start until the Tuesday following Labour Day.
Party leader Brad Wall said the reason is primarily an economic one. He said a recent study by Tourism Saskatchewan showed a majority of tourism-related businesses are hurt by the traditional pre-Labour Day start to the school year.
The numbers come from an online survey sent out by Tourism Saskatchewan in November 2010 to 2,113 businesses and communities.
Of those, 390 respondents (18 per cent) completed at least one question and 335 (16 per cent) finished the entire survey. A total of 60 per cent indicated the school year had either 'some' or a 'significant' impact on their operations.
Their major concerns were loss of revenues and difficulty keeping staff to the end of the season.
Wall said he also heard from parents that starting school before Labour Day gets in the way of family time.
"It kind of ruins the last long weekend of the summer for families who might be travelling, vacationing or camping," he said.
If elected, the party plans to make the change in time for the 2012-2013 school year, although it says school boards are welcome to bring teachers back to work prior to the Labour Day long weekend so they can prepare for classes or have professional development days.
Currently, the government does not set the beginning of the school year, but legislation stipulates that it cannot end later than June 30.
School Boards, teachers not consulted
The announcement is bound to please many students who want just a few more days of summer break, but it's being slammed by associations representing school boards and teachers.
"It's a very large announcement really in the context of education in the province and there was no consultation with the [Saskatchewan] School Boards Association, no consultation with the [Saskatchewan] Teachers' Federation," said Jim Gallagher, president of the Regina Catholic School Teachers' Association
"Educational decisions should not be based upon what's best for Tourism Saskatchewan, but on what is best for Saskatchewan children and youth," said Sandi Urban-Hall, president of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, in a release.
Urban-Hall said boards of education set their own calendars based on the needs of students in their areas, and a forced start-date limits the time they have to accomplish educational goals.
The election is on Nov. 7.