DES MOINES (AP) — The State Board of Education has declined to act on a proposal that would have made it more difficult for Iowa school districts to start classes in August.
The board voted 5-2 Thursday against holding a public hearing on the proposed rule.
Board member Diane Crookham-Johnson said the topic deserved a broader debate.
“This needs further discussion than the State Board of Education can give it,” Crookham-Johnson said. “I think this is a legislative issue.”
The matter arose because although districts are now required by law to start school no earlier than the calendar week that includes Sept. 1, nearly all of them get waivers to begin classes earlier. Gov. Terry Branstad has called the policy too lax, saying starting school earlier hurts Iowa's tourism industry.
The new rule would have required districts wanting to start up to seven days early to have school boards hold public hearings and approve resolutions saying a later start date would harm education.
Districts that wanted to start even earlier would have needed to document the harm of a later start date and back up the claim with test scores, budget information and staffing data.
The Iowa Association of School Boards and School Administrators of Iowa supported the education board's decision. The organization has said school district start times should be left to local officials.
Waukee parent David Cunningham agreed.
“This is a contentious issue. It belongs at the local level and should not be mandated by the state or the tourism lobby,” he said.
But board member Mike May, a retired teacher and resort owner who supported continuing discussion of the proposal, expressed disappointment.
There's no proof early start dates help students, but it's clear they hurt Iowa's tourism industry, he said.
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