The First Day Of School Debate Hits Both the House & Senate
Iowa lawmakers are deliberating over bills that would determine when fall classes could legally start for Iowa school districts.
Governor Terry Branstad has voiced his concern of allowing Iowa schools to start earlier and earlier each year. His biggest issue is that it hurts the state's tourism, and it makes it tough for families to go to the Iowa State Fair.
Two months ago Branstad's Department of Education put schools on alert that there would be no more automatic waivers granted to schools to start early. School districts would have to wait until August 31 to start the 2015-2016 academic year. The current law stipulates that schools can not begin their academic year until the week in which September first falls.
On Wednesday, a Senate education committee approved a bill that would give control to school districts to determine their start date. However the House education committee approved a bill that would require classes to start on or after August 23rd, with a clause that school districts could not seek a waiver to begin sooner.
With the passing of both bills, the full Senate and House will now be able to debate the bills.
Schools districts have started their scholastic year earlier and earlier for a few reasons. The first is to make sure they finish the fall semester before the long holiday break. Also, several districts have high school students taking community college courses, and community colleges start earlier than the prescribed benchmark of the week in which September first falls.
The House Education Committee's chairman Ron Jorgensen (R-Sioux City) says using August 23rd as the start date helps address those two concerns.
Republicans and Democrats on the committee met privately for about an hour Tuesday to discuss Jorgensen's proposed compromise. A committee vote on the idea may not be too far away.