Bill restricting school start date heard in Mo. Senate Committee

Published: Apr. 9, 2019 at 6:31 PM CDT
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The end of the school years is likely on the minds of many students and parents all across the Ozarks as the weather just keeps getting better.

But, it seems right as you're starting to enjoy your summer vacation - school is back in session.

For many it seems, it's happening earlier every year.

Local leaders in the tourism industry want to see that changed.

"We're a seasonal outdoor venue," said Tom Abbett, Director of Business Development at the Ozarks Amphitheater in Camdenton. "We employ a lot of college students, high school students, and teachers throughout the summer."

But lately, Abbett says those summer concert seasons have been bit shorter as many schools across the state start up sometimes as early as the second week of August.

"Because everybody goes back to school and they don't plan their vacations past the first weekend of August because football starts, band starts, all of that stuff, we lose about 3 to 4 weeks of August," Abbett added.

That means less money comes into local communities.

Abbett, along with many in the tourism industry, are supporting a bill at the Missouri Capitol that would restrict how early school can start.

Right now, state law says schools must start no earlier than 10 days before Labor Day, unless the district holds a public hearing to start earlier.

The Missouri School board Association, School Administrators Coalition and the Missouri State Teachers Association all spoke out against this bill.

"The people who have local control of the school districts and should have local control of the calendar," said Mike Reid with the Missouri School Board Association. "After a hearing and determining what the people in the community want, then they set their calendar at that point in time."

Another criticism of the bill is that the school year would end later, especially because of the amount of testing for students.

"That also is a factor in the second semester of the school calendar," said Otto Fajen with the Missouri National Education Association. "There tends to be an affect on the schedule and on attention and instruction after that's over with. Our folks see that in the students. They see less sense of 'we're still here to do productive work' and it gets harder and harder.'"

If the bill is passed out of the Senate and signed by Governor Mike Parson, it will go into effect for the 2020-2021 school year.