KDLT overtags its story on the impact of the “late” starts and finishes to the Sioux Falls school year. Last year, Sioux Falls school district voters chose to reduce its school year’s overlap with cultural summer, starting after Labor Day instead of in the middle of August and ending June 3. Now KDLT reports that “Kids kept in school longer means area businesses struggle for employees.”
Businesses—plural? Ricky Cody puts two businesses on screen. Wild Water West sounds like it’s handling the labor availability issue just fine:
Wild Water West in Sioux Falls, for example, will be the place to be once Mother Nature gives us a week full of sunshine. But, while we wait in eager, anticipation, Emily McNamara is worried if she will even have enough lifeguards to fill the 70 chairs there.
“Our training dates have just shifted, we shifted some times, and plan to do a couple hours to accommodate those students that are still in class, but we think everything is going to work out great,” she said [Ricky Cody, “Seasonal Businesses Eagerly Await Summer Recess,” KDLT, 2016.05.17].
B&G Milky Way is more clearly struggling, but as much because of the generally tight labor market as the new school year:
“I’m just here by myself,” said B & G Milky Way franchise owner, Bruce Bettmeng.
Bettmeng relies on high school students to staff his two stores in the area. He’s been forced to work countless shifts, shifts that would normally be filled by high school students.
“I’m here because there’s no high schoolers available, and even generally speaking with unemployment in Sioux Falls it’s hard to find somebody,” he added [Cody, 2016.05.17].
So that’s one business, singular, struggling, and even that business says the problem is bigger than the school year. Plus, this story ignores the fact that any labor shortage caused by changing the school year doesn’t create a new problem but only shifts an existing problem. Previously, the Sioux Falls school year left amusement parks, ice cream shops, and other summer businesses short-staffed during the last halcyon days of summer in late August and early September. Now seasonal employers in Sioux Falls miss out on their teen labor force during the first week of cultural summer but get to keep them through those final weeks up to Labor Day. Given that May is cooler and rainier than August in Sioux Falls, starting and ending school later would seem to make more teens available for summer employers on better days for business.
Our public schools should not arrange education around the needs of our capitalist exploiters. But scheduling summer vacation around American cultural summer should have no net negative impact on the effort to staff water parks and drive-ins. Starting school after Labor Day may even give some young workers more sunny days to make a buck.