Schools, tourism debate later school start date for students

Your child’s school leaders aren’t so sure about starting them back to class later in the year. Right now, the school year starts in early August. But a new bill would push that back to Aug. 26, and tourism dollars are the reason.

The tourism industry commissioned a study that found the early start date cost Kentucky $432 million in tourism money from July to August 2014. Tourism leaders say they’re in favor of a later start date, but school leaders say they have some concerns.

There are three months left until students are out of school, but Marshall County Schools Chief Information Officer Russ Buchanan says if Senate Bill 50 passes, that wouldn’t be the case.

"Either you’re looking at going in August or going in June," Buchanan says.

Buchanan says the puzzle of putting together a school calendar is challenging considering snow days, teacher service days, holidays, and breaks.
A later start date would shuffle those variables even more.

"What you’ve got to determine is what’s best for kids as far as education and maybe what’s best for tourism," says Buchanan.

Regardless of any changes to the school calendar, students still need to have at least 170 instructional days in a year.

Randy Newcomb with Kentucky Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau says school in early August hurts local tourism too, not only because families are in school and not spending money, but because their seasonal student workers return to school halfway through the season.

"You’re left with businesses with no help during the end of their season, so it hurts in two ways," Newcomb says

Buchanan says he has no immediate solution if the senate bill passes, but students’ education will always come first.

Not all schools would be required to start late if this becomes reality. Schools would be allowed to submit waivers to be exempt.

Related Articles