State Board Denies Later School Start Dates - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

State Board Denies Later School Start Dates

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Addie Olson

aolson@myabc5.com

@addieolson

Kids across the state are getting ready to head back to school. Most schools start around mid- to late August.

Iowa's tourism industry wanted to change that.

They supported a proposal to prevent schools from starting before Sept. 1. On Thursday that proposal - made by the Iowa Department of Education - was shot down.

"At no time have I had a constituent complain to me about a school start time prior to Labor Day," said Katherine Schmidt of the Norwalk School District.

It's an issue that puts Iowa schools at odds with Iowa's tourism industry.

"We don't want to chop the legs off of an industry that provides $8 billion in revenue," said State Board Member Mike May, a supporter of the proposal.

Supporters said keeping kids in school during the State Fair and the last couple weeks of vacation season pulls money from the economy.

Teachers and parents told the board they don't agree.

"Parents who want to take their children to the State Fair or on a vacation, they take the children out and they go," Schmidt said.

"As a state, if we're truly committed to making Iowa number one in education, then why are we even considering taking more local control away from our local school districts," asked Waukee parent David Cunningham.

Right now schools need a waiver from the State Board if they want to start before Sept. 1. Nearly every school received a waiver this year.

"We strongly support tourism, we like the State Fair, but they should not be meddling in when school starts or on school decisions. That's really your elected representatives," said Tom Norak, ex-superintendent of the West Des Moines school district.

Supporters of the proposal said schools should have a real need for that waiver before it's approved.

"This is a false choice, that we're saying we have to choose education or we have to choose tourism," May said. "Nothing could be further from the truth. If education was really being hurt by a rule like this, we'd all reject it. We wouldn't even argue that."

The proposal was turned down by the board in a 5-2 vote. They did recommend it be further discussed by the state legislature.

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