DETROIT — A record number of school districts in Michigan are bypassing the state’s 11-year ban on starting school before Labor Day and opening their doors to students in August.
More than 120 school districts across the state have received waivers from the Michigan Department of Education that release them from the requirement to start school after the late summer holiday. The 2005 law requirement first took effect in the 2006-07 school year, The Detroit News reported .
Education Department spokesman Bill DiSessa said the number of waivers has increased partly due to the steady growth in the number of districts offering Early/Middle College programs, which give students the opportunity to earn associate degrees or certificates along with their high school diplomas. DiSessa said about 55 of the approved waiver applications sought an early start in order to align their school calendars with post-secondary institutions.
“Many of these programs require that the district and post-secondary calendars align, and many post-secondary institutions have start dates prior to Labor Day,” he said.
Sen. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy, introduced a bill in March to allow Michigan schools to open before Labor Day without state approval. State officials said the bill remains on the Senate floor and isn’t expected to impact the upcoming school year.
Knollenberg said the bill is the right thing for the state’s 1.5 million schoolchildren.
“This is in the best interest of the kids and letting local superintendents and local parents decide what is best for themselves,” he said. “It’s not going to happen in time for this school year. It’s a longer term plan for me. I’d like to get it completed this year and in place for next year.”
Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association President Deanna Richeson says she opposes the bill because the state’s post-Labor Day school law has increased hotel occupancy levels significantly.
“Parents want the opportunity to make family vacation memories during the two most predictably hot months of the year: July and all of August,” she said.
Information from: The Detroit News, http://detnews.com/