February 8, 2016

Sending kids back to school sooner

Wisconsin school districts would be able to call students back to class before September, under a bill lawmakers are proposing at the state Capitol.

Representative Jim Ott (R-Mequon) says it would be easier to schedule Wisconsin’s required 180 days of instruction. “The problem with the September 1st date is that it causes the school year to be pushed well into the month of June. There’s a number of reasons why that’s not necessarily beneficial to the students.” Also Ott says, the school districts would like to be able to set their own date “so they have the flexibility to schedule out their year.”

Changing the dates pits educators against tourism. Ott says he’s not insensitive to the concerns of the tourism industry, but there are many factors to consider and it should be left up to the school district. “Tourism is very, very important in Wisconsin, but then so is education.”

Ott points out, the kids are back at school well before September 1st for football practice and other fall activities. Students are participating in pretty much everything but classes, so, he asks, why not go ahead and let districts start teaching earlier?

Also, Ott says, some students miss the first day or two of summer activities due to getting out of school late. Starting the year earlier would avoid that problem.

The Wisconsin Association of Convention and Visitors Bureau says changing the law would have a negative economic effect on Wisconsin’s tourism industry. Previous attempts to abolish the mandatory September start date failed.

Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) joins Representative Ott in seeking co-sponsors for the measure.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:41

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