Compromise school start day bill clears Senate committee

03/03/2016 06:34 PM

FRANKFORT – A bill which would create new school calendar committees which would come up with proposals for school start dates unanimously passed out of the Senate Standing Committee on Education Thursday.

Originally, Senate Bill 50, sponsored by Sen. Chris Girdle called for schools statewide to start back no earlier than the Monday closest to Aug. 26, saying that later start dates cost the Kentucky economy $432 million in summer tourism dollars and related economic activity by having students go back to class in early August.

However, after consultation with with the organizations like the Kentucky School Board Association, Kentucky Superintendent’s Association and Kentucky Education Association Commissioner Stephen Pruitt, a compromise was reached on the bill creating a school calendar committee which would make starting date recommendations to the local school boards, leaving the ultimate decision of when a school starts at the local level.

The school calendar committee would be made up of local education officials, parents, a representative from the business or tourism bureau and other potential appointees who would be recommended by the superintendents and approved by the school boards.

The incentive for districts which would start school in late August would be the fact that even though they would still be required to have 1,062 hours of instructional time for the school year, they would not necessarily be held to the minimum of 170 days as mandated by state law.

Districts could make up for lost time by lengthening the school day to a maximum of seven instructional hours.

“This compromise will increase the local control of our school calendars,” Girdler said. “So, we have increased the local decision making ability of these school boards and hopefully been able make the case of the impact of the school calendar is having on our overall economy in Kentucky.”

The Somerset Republican would have preferred the original bill, but he hopes districts around the state keep in mind the negative impact on the economy of schools starting school early, even if they are not based in a tourist area.

Girdler represents the area in the vicinity of Lake Cumberland.

“My tourism impact is not from people in my home community, my frequent in-state visitors are coming from Louisville, Lexington, and northern Kentucky,” Girdler said. “Hopefully we’re going to be able to make our case on the local levels, and encourage these school districts to make the change and help out the economy, so, in turn, we can create more revenue to put into the educational system itself.”

The bill moves on to the full Senate chamber where it’s expected to pass before moving on the the House.


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