This week's 'Ask Evan' question deals with the start of the new school year. Jenny B asks, "Is the bill to move the start of the school year to after Labor Day going to be passed, or any update on it?"
These days most PA school districts begin the new school year during the third week of August-- and virtually none after Labor Day. There has been an effort for several years to change that. State Rep Bob Godshall of the 53th district, north of Philadelphia has sponsored a bill again this year to push back the start of school to after Labor Day. It is house bill 73. Godshall says his bill was introduced as a way to ensure that Pennsylvania families get all the benefits of a full traditional summer vacation while not negatively impacting the education of students. The bill is currently sitting in the House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee. It's been there since early February. So far there has been no movement on it-- at all.
State lawmakers who support it say starting the school year in August costs PA taxpayers additional money on different levels. First, there are the additional costs to cool buildings during the heat of August. Secondly, they say it hurts tourism which is the state's second largest industry. The Labor Day weekend is a big holiday of tourism and family vacation time. Business dies off and that means shop owners and the state get less summer revenue. The early school start also cuts families' opportunities for late summer vacations.
Those against it are primarily the school systems.. The state teachers union and the school board association. They have fought against the change for years. Those groups claim the mid-August start is necessary in order to prepare students for upcoming PSSA tests— something bill supporters don`t quite buy. They also say the change would push more school districts' schedules into late June and negatively impact summer programs. However, Rep. Godshall says the districts have enough spare days in the year to absorb the august days without extending school.
So, HB73 sits in committee. Whether it sees action is unknown-- but doubtful. In any case most PA school students this year will be heading back to class in a couple of weeks-- before Labor Day.
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