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School Calendar Bill Moves Forward

February 5, 2014, 5:09 PM by Sammi Bjelland

School Calendar Bill Moves Forward

The school calendar bill clears its first big hurdle, passing in the state affairs committee Wednesday.

House Bill 1093 would prevent public schools from starting classes before the last Monday in August.

Some parents want more time to enjoy the summer with their kids before school starts, including mother of two Wendy McDonnel. She says the bill is a last resort after appealing to the Sioux Falls School district.

"Four years ago we did try to address this locally. After talking with our school board, talking with our administration, and over 3,000 families and parents gave letters of wanting leniency with this calendar. And we weren't heard," McDonnel said. 

School board president Doug Morrison tells us Sioux Falls has a committee that helps select the start date.

Beginning classes too late in the year would force students to take semester tests after Christmas break, which he says is not in students' best interest.

"It's a little hard to swallow as a parent because if we aren't educating our students to where they can't use prior knowledge and do a review, and be successful on a test after 10 days. We're basing a whole school calendar on that? I think that's unfortunate," McDonnel said. 

Morrison also says a later start date would interfere with sports, and delayed test results could hurt high school students applying for scholarships and college admission.

Supporters disagree.

"Most of Minnesota's starts after Labor Day. That's because they look at the whole picture. They look at how it affects their economic development, how it affects their tourism, families, all of those things. Iowa has it, their's is the last Monday in August. There's some school districts up in North Dakota that are now passing after Labor Day," McDonnel said. 

McDonnel says its a decision that could help the state economy.

"I don't think we're asking for a lot. I mean, a week is another week that we get to be with our families and spend those dollars in this area or in the state. And where the weather is just more favorable," McDonnel said.

Last year, Sioux Falls schools started one week prior to the proposed bill date.

You can read the school district's stance on current legislation on their website. 

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