Board of Education to Let Legislature Deal with School Start Date Issue

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DES MOINES, Iowa–State leaders continue to debate the topic of school start times.

State law says, school districts cannot start classes before September 1st, but schools can apply for a waiver that allows them to start earlier.

In the past those waivers have been granted almost without exception.

However, Governor Terry Branstad says this year the law will be strictly enforced and it will be harder for schools to start in August.

Thursday afternoon, The Iowa Board of Education addressed the matter.

Some members say start dates are being dictated by tourism dollars.

“There was a sudden rug jerked out from every district in the state of Iowa because we are more concerned about the State Fair, beer sales and hotel/motel tax revenue tax in this state then all of the kids that are going to school in Iowa, “ says board member Diane Crookham-Johnson.

The Iowa Association of School Boards, which represents 2,000 citizen volunteers, is seeking a repeal of the law to allow each district flexibility.

“The role of the state is to set those broad and challenging parameters that we should all shoot for and give school districts the ability to innovate and accomplish them and that`s what they`re trying to do by adapting the school calendar,” says Executive Director of IASB Lisa Bartusek.

However, in the end it’s ultimately the legislature’s decision, and the board agreed to step back and wait.

“I`m of the opinion that this is a legislative issue and I think we should give the legislature and the governor the time they need to work on this,” says board member Michael Knedler.

Lawmakers on both sides say the law needs to change, but that doing so will be difficult.

Lawmakers say they want everyone with an interest in school start dates to be part of the conversation as well as the governor.

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