Residents, Business Leaders Say Later Start Would Benefit Sevier County

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Sevierville (WVLT) -- There have been numerous calls for changes to the school calendar, led mostly by parents who want to save summer for their kids by starting school later.

But in Sevier County, where tourism is king, the school calendar effects whether or not there are enough employees available to work at the places that serve late summer visitors.

When you visit Sevier County, it seems to be busy all the time.

However, this time of year, businesses such as the Fast Trax go-cart track still experience crowds that pale in comparison the lines they will draw come summer time.

By late August, when the county's high school students are back in school, it's hard for owner Larry Sorrell to find enough employees to serve his customers.

"We have a lot of out of state tourists here and their kids don't go back until after Labor Day," Sorrell said, "so it runs our staff a little short. It would work out great if we were all on the same page as far as starting after Labor Day."

This year, Sorrell opened a skating rink to try to capture indoor business year-round, but he knows the big revenue months will always be in the summer.

It just takes creative hiring to get through it.

"We have a lot of foreign exchange students that work for us," he said, "if it weren't for those kids, we'd really be in a bind."

The state lawmakers who represent this county are leading the effort to change the school calendar.

Their ideas include eliminating some teacher in service days and less breaks during the year.

Most of the people we talk to seem to like the idea.

"As long as they extend it past Labor Day or something like that, it would give the tourists time to get in, benefit our community and then get out before we have to start thinking about school events," said Buck Householder, a parent in support of the new calendar.

"We'd like to see it supported statewide, we know a lot of the surrounding states do this and we'd like to see consistency," said Brenda McCroskey, CEO of the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce.

State representative Richard Montgomery chairs the "Traditional School Calendar Committee."

We could not reach him for a comment but we were told the committee plans to discuss the issue further at a meeting next month.

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