The state House of Representatives on Wednesday gave final approval to Senate Bill 50, which would allow calendar flexibility for school districts that start the school year no earlier than the Monday closest to Aug. 26. The bill now goes to Gov. Matt Bevin.
Rep. Brian Linder, R-Dry Ridge, presented the legislation in the House. He reiterated earlier comments by the bill’s sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, that the bill does not mandate a later school year start date. A school district’s decision would be voluntary and districts would keep local control.
The vote in the House was 77-18.
The bill says a district that starts school no earlier than the Monday closest to Aug. 26 would not be required to have the minimum 170 instructional days, just 1,062 minimum hours.
Some districts have suggested that under the legislation, they might go to school on four-day weeks with a half-day on Friday, Thayer previously said.
Under the bill, no district could have an instructional day longer than 7 hours unless the district got approval from the state education commissioner.
Many Kentucky districts start in early August, and Thayer has previously expressed support for a later start date. Members of Kentucky’s tourism industry have said that the early school year start dates hurts business. Other supporters of the bill say that families in districts that start school in early August want more of a summer vacation.
Under the bill, the local board of education could every year appoint a school district calendar committee that includes teachers, a principal, district staff, parents and members of the business community. The committee would make school calendar recommendations to the superintendent and the school board that take into consideration the economic impact of the school calendar on the community and on Kentucky.
The bill would go into effect in 2018-19.
Thayer has praised Fayette County Schools for moving that district’s start date from Aug. 10 in 2016 to Aug. 16 in 2017, calling the district “a leader.”