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Two bills propose starting Ohio schools after Labor Day

Posted at 7:08 PM, Aug 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-21 19:13:54-04

Two bills currently being discussed by Ohio lawmakers would delay the start of the school year until after Labor Day. 

Senate Bill 34 and House Bill 549 would tie state funding to school districts starting after Labor Day. The proposals would allow schools to opt out and not be penalized if a public hearing was held at least 30 days before adopting resolutions to start before the September holiday.

"I think it's a great idea," said Jody Friedman, who is both a mother and a teacher. "Once Labor Day is here, hit the ground running for the rest of the school year."

State Senator Gayle Manning is a sponsor of Senate Bill 34 who also knows what it's like to be in the classroom. She spent 37 years as a teacher. She said parents are overwhelmingly in support of this proposal.

"It's the parents who have asked me to do something about this, and that's why I'm carrying the bill," Manning said.

Parents aren't the only ones who like the idea. Manning said the bills have the support of the Ohio Tourism Industry and small businesses who rely on high school students for seasonal help. 

In Ashtabula County, the Geneva-on-the-Lake council drafted a resolution requesting that Geneva Area City Schools start after the Labor Day holiday. They hoped to cash in on the tourism business. But, that didn't happen. Teachers spent Tuesday preparing for the start of the school year on Wednesday. The superintendent said they need to be consistent with other districts in the county due to of shared resources. 

"That's one of the reasons, the other is we're trying to get as many days as we can in before testing," Geneva Area City School Superintendent Eric Kujala said.

"I think that makes the test invalid if they think a couple of weeks makes a difference," Manning said. 

"I think if there was some kind of change or modification to the testing windows, I think school districts would look at changing the start date," Kujala said.

Manning urged parents to make their voices heard. While she has heard from parents, she said lawmakers in Columbus have not.

"You will hear from the School Board Association, they're against it. The Superintendent's Association has come to us, they want local control," Manning said. 

Michigan and Maryland are among states with similar legislation. In a recent Travel Association poll, 66 percent of Ohioans are in favor of the idea.