Should students head back to school earlier or later?

Matthew Eveler has his picture taken on his first day of kindergarten at Hayshire Elementary School in August 2012. Some districts have discussed starting the school year earlier than normal, but there’s also legislation proposed that would require districts to start after Labor Day.

It would seem there are forces working in opposite directions when it comes to school calendars.

While some York County school districts have been looking at starting the school year earlier, there are others in Pennsylvania who believe students shouldn’t head back to school until after Labor Day.

I’ve written a few stories in recent weeks about some school districts in York County considering earlier start dates for next school year and about discussions about moving county districts toward similar calendars.

Many districts in the county are considering Aug. 21 as a start date next year. That’s earlier for some, not so much for others. But some school officials cited things like required state testing as reasons for having kids head back earlier.

Earlier, I tweeted from a York City School Board meeting that the 2013-14 calendar the board will consider would have most students start Aug. 21.  Joel Sears, a York Suburban School Board member, then drew my attention to proposed legislation that would require districts to start the school year after Labor Day.

State Rep. Robert Godshall, a Republican whose district is in Montgomery County, has reintroduced legislation that would mandate that districts could not start the school year before the day after Labor Day. (An exception would be that districts could request state permission to start earlier because of a situation beyond their control as a result of construction or a natural disaster, the bill says.)

In his co-sponsorship memo, Godshall said that he was reintroducing the legislation “as a way to ensure that Pennsylvania families get all the benefits of a full, traditional summer vacation while not negatively impacting the education of students.”

It seems like school districts in York County have started the school year before Labor Day for some time, though I know of others in the state don’t. When Northern York County School Board recently voted on a calendar for next year, with a student start date of Aug. 26, one board member dissented, saying that sending kids back before Labor Day deprived the state of tourism dollars.

Still, it looks like legislation to mandate sending students back after Labor Day has been around for some time and hasn’t gotten traction. We have stories in our archives back to at least 2006 about Godshall’s efforts to start the year earlier.

The bill has been referred to the House committee on tourism and recreational development. It’s early, so I’ll keep an eye on its movement from there.

Thoughts?

About Angie Mason

I'm the education reporter at the York Daily Record. Follow me on Twitter: @angiemason1
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