School Start Date Debate

A bill that is trying again to give school districts more leeway in when they can start class each year in doubt.

The House Commerce Committee narrowly defeated a motion Tuesday
night to recommend the measure go to the House floor.

The bill would permit school systems to start school as early as the second Monday in August. The current law requires districts to begin no sooner than Aug. 25.

The legislation wouldn't change the required end of school by June 10.

Parents and the travel industry convinced lawmakers in 2004 to pass a statewide school calendar law. They argued too many districts were cutting into traditional vacation time by starting in early August.

School systems have sought more calendar flexibility ever since. Administrators say the restrictions hurt student performance and make it difficult to end semesters before the December holiday break.

The 13-to-14 vote doesn't necessarily kill the bill. Sponsor Rep. Ray Rapp of Madison County hopes the motion will be reconsidered.

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