Traditionally, August is the largest month for tourism related activities bringing 2,362,000 visitors within our state. August accounts for 11.7 percent of all visitors throughout the calendar year.

More importantly than those figures are the expenditures that those visitors generate: $540,082,338. That money helps offset our state and local tax base and brings revenue to tourism related businesses such as hotels, service stations, fast food, entertainment and shopping. That means that $17 million per day is spent in Iowa in August for tourism related activities.

However, with the school waiver of the start day from late August to mid-August, that amount of money — $17 million per day — is lost. Every day school is in session prior to the once traditional start date reduces the amount of money that goes into our tax base that support items in the education budget… including teacher salaries. That is not the only segment affected.

The ability to add more money to the budget is reduced because school age individuals who help run the tourist attractions, events and retail establishments return to school closing those segments and shortening the tourism season and the tax base.

In Iowa, there is a bill being introduced into the Senate (Senate File 2150) and House (House File 2253) that eliminates the authority of the director of the Department of Education to grant a request made by a board of directors of a school district to commence classes prior to the earliest starting date allowed, which is no sooner than a day during the calendar week in which the first day of September falls or, if the first day of September falls on a Sunday, a day during the prior week.

The bill makes a conforming change to eliminate an exemption from aid reduction for early school starts that school districts qualify for if they are granted a waiver from the school start date. Without the waiver, the school district’s state aid payments are reduced by 1/180 for each day of that fiscal year for which the school district begins school before the earliest starting date is allowed.

The state is making a significant investment in tourism, through the Vision Iowa and Community Attraction and Tourism programs and additionally in quality of life projects such as recreational trails, destination parks and Great Places.

Clinton is a Great Place designee and once these projects are built, will want to capture the revenue that will come from these tourism based attractions. Additionally, in collaboration with our school district, we can accomplish two goals:

1. Putting more dollars into the tax base; and

2. Increasing the amount of revenue that helps fund allocations to our district’s schools.