Two bills pushing to push back starting school - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Two bills pushing to push back starting school

 By Jeanie Powell
WAFF 48 News Reporter

 

 

There's talk in Montgomery that would put all public schools on a uniform start and end school date.

Now, Alabama schools have the liberty of starting at different times.

But, there are bills in the house and senate that would change that and Wednesday, they both pass in committee and will move forward for a full vote.

Meanwhile, educators here in the Valley aren't giving them a very high grade.

Similar bills in the house and senate are pushing to push back school start dates and all K-12 public schools would still get out before Memorial Day.

"Save Alabama Summers" had people present at the state capitol Wednesday wearing buttons in support of longer summers.

S.A.S. is a parent group that's been fighting for this for four years.

Executive Director Tina Bruno says, "We basically just got tired of seeing the school year start earlier and earlier every year."

Shelby County Schools started as early as July 16th last year.

Bruno says, "When kids go back to school in early August, it's so hot that they're absolutely miserable and they're not concentrating and so we're losing precious time on tasks."

She also says it's more costly to start earlier, but Huntsville City Schools spokesman Keith Ward says he doesn't believe that's necessarily true, saying savings wouldn't be that huge with more energy-efficient mechanisms in schools.

He says, "The bottom line is, what's going to provide the best educational benefit for the students?"

Ward says years ago, when the system received negative feedback on year-around possibilities, fall break was implemented.

And that's one reason start dates moved up.

Ward says, "Another reason is the increase number of school days."

It's now mandated that all Alabama students must attend school 180 days out of the year.

Huntsville City Schools, for example, tries to equally divide that between two semesters.

Final exams are taken before Christmas break.

Ward says, One of the reasons for that is to be able to have the first semester final exams given before the semester is over.

"With something that's extremely modified like that, that would push the start date much later... that in all probability could cause the exams to be given after winter break and they see that as something that might actually hurt the students in their scoring."

Bruno says, "We're not asking that the legislature mandate when holidays are or when Spring Break is.

Simply a start and a stop date, so parents can make plans and know what's going on from year to year and be able to enroll their children in a lot of enrichment opportunities, plan vacation, or even plan their time off from work to spend time with children."

Both bills are aiming to go into effect the upcoming school year.

Huntsville City and Madison County Schools already have their 2008-2009 calendars set, and say this could interfere with testing times they can't control.

It could also affect the number of breaks and other commitments.

For more information on SB241 and HB179, you can click on the links listed below.

http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/acas/searchableinstruments/2008rs/bills/sb241.htm

http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/acas/searchableinstruments/2008rs/bills/hb179.htm

To contact Jeanie, email her at jpowell@waff.com.

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