Friday, December 6th, 2013

WJ board opposes state standardization of school calendar

There are educational standards for testing and licensing. Now, Ohio lawmakers want to standardize the school year by prohibiting districts from starting earlier than Labor Day and closing later than Memorial Day.

Ohio Rep. Bill Hayes co-sponsored House Bill 191 which is now under discussion in the House Education Committee. The bill also includes language establishing a minimum school year based on hours, rather than days, and adding 50 hours to the school year.

In the Jefferson Local School District, board members passed a resolution on Oct. 10 opposing HB 191 and any state legislation seeking to control the school calendar of local districts. The resolution specifically addresses the failure of the legislation to consider local conditions, wishes and needs.

“The legislature should stay out of it, said board President David Harper.They should be focusing on mandates that are costing districts money and not sticking their noses where they shouldnt. Theyre disconnected from the community and taking away authority from who knows whats best…the local district.

Superintendent William Mullett stated,Nobody ever asked us for our input. This was dictated top down from the legislature and we werent asked about it. Obviously, were going to oppose it. It should be left up to the district.

“If the legislation becomes law, it would be a real challenge for us. For example, in this years calendar, we have a total of 10 student days after Memorial Day and before Labor Day where wed have to schedule them somewhere else.

For school children, that could mean a shorter winter break or spring break or spending national holidays such as Presidents Day or Martin Luther King Day in school rather than at home.

Changes would begin with the 2012-2013 school year and the bill would make compliance a condition of state funding. Workshops, orientation or other activities in preparation for the opening of school for teachers or administrators are permitted prior to Labor Day.

With approval, a district could open prior to Labor Day or after Memorial Day if scheduling needs are affected by a construction or renovation project at the school or another facility operated by the district, calamity day(s) need to be made up, or the school operates on a year-round basis.

School districts would be prohibited from conducting extracurricular events on Friday through Monday of Labor Day weekend unless they entered into an agreement prior to July 1, 2012. 

Supporters of the bill say the longer summer break would benefit families going on a vacation, students working summer jobs, and state tourism.

According to the RVBusiness Web site,The Ohio Campground Owners Association and the boating association have spoken before the House Education Committee in support of the bill and its possible benefits for tourism, Ohios third-largest industry.

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