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School Districts Receive Waivers To Start Early

Wikipedia Media Commons

Students might need to change their Labor Day weekend plans.  This fall, 50 school districts will have a new, earlier start date.  

Many districts say they need to start earlier, because the state is requiring an extra week of school next year.  They worry that will mean meeting further into the hot summer months. 

School districts with opportunities to earn college credit also say they need to keep on pace with the college schedule.  Rockford Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Shiblersays the early start is helpful for students taking college courses.  “I’ve got two universities that will be starting their program August 29th,” Shibler said.  “And that’s when we should be starting because we have students, though not all of them of course, but 150-200 of them will be involved in that.”  

Shibler says he understands that the change could present some problems for families that already had vacation plans for the holiday.  As a result, he is willing to let students start later without penalty. 

Dr. Catherine Ash is the superintendent of Okemos Public Schools.  She says for the most part, the response to the change has been positive.  In the end, when we explain the rational and kind of the alternative and all of the parameters that we have to work within to build a calendar, I think that there’s an understanding of the why,” she said.

The post-Labor Day required start date for public schools began in 2005 in an effort to keep Michigan’s tourism industry booming until after the holiday.  In an interview with Michigan’s Independent Source of News & Information (MIRS), state Senator Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City) said he believes there is ample time in in the calendar for schools to start after Labor Day.  “Starting after Labor Day is good for students and good for Michigan’s economy,” Schmidt told MIRS.  “We need both.  We can’t have one without the other.”

Public schools without a waiver start on September 6th.

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—Cheyna Roth is the State Capitol Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org

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