Parents take late school start date to state - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Parents take late school start date to state

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Posted: Saturday, January 31, 2004 6:03 am | Updated: 4:27 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Deborah Brewer is done asking the Scottsdale Unified School District to start school later in August: She’s moved on to the Legislature.

The mother of five Scottsdale students advised the district governing board this summer that she and a group of parents would take their concerns to the Legislature, possibly by hiring a lobbyist to pursue a later school start, after five years of lobbying the district failed.

Instead, the parent group hooked up with House Education Committee chairwoman Rep. Linda Gray, R-Phoenix.

Gray’s committee will hear the resulting bill, HB2027, 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. It requires all school districts to begin school after Aug. 21. The House will broadcast the hearing live online at liveproceedings.htm.

"I’ve been irate about this for years," Brewer said. "It took getting to a boiling point for something to happen here. It’s too hot in August."

Brewer said she watched the first day of school creep closer to July. This year school began Aug. 11; next year will start Aug. 10.

Gray said she favors the later start date to not only keep students out of the heat, but to save on utility bills as the state begins to phase out excess utility funding for school districts.

Texas recently passed similar legislation.

"There are two major reasons: The heat and the cost to the district," Gray said.

The bill has caused some legislators and educators to protest the possibility of the state stripping local control from school boards.

"My daughter goes to Chandler schools, and they have year-round school," said Sen. Jay Tibshraeny, R-Chandler — where school board members have expressed concern their community-approved, yearround schedule might have to be scrapped. "If there’s a parent or two that doesn’t like the schedule their child’s on, they shouldn’t try and change state law for something their local school district could do."

Advocates say a later start date allows more school time in cooler June weather instead of August, allows all students an equal shot at applying for summer jobs, cuts out days staying inside for physical education classes, and allows students to take part in summer activities that stretch to August.

Opponents say it can result in exams falling after winter break, or could cause districts with a fall break or modified calendar to cut out attractive vacation periods that benefit families and employees.

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