By SHEILA SCHIMPF
Capital News Service
LANSING – A bill that would allow school districts to choose whether school starts before or after Labor Day is in the House Tourism Committee.
Rep. Andy Schor, D-Lansing, its sponsor, said it may die there. “I honestly don’t know. The speaker’s office says tourism is more important than educational flexibility,” Schor said.
Matt Blakely, chief of staff for committee chair Peter Pettalia, R-Presque Isle, said nothing has been scheduled yet.
“We’re still looking into it,” he said. We are willing to take a look at every issue. There’s some interest.”
State law mandates that public schools start after Labor Day. The 2006 change was put in place to spur tourism over the long Labor Day weekend.
“Tourism is important,” Schor said. So his bill would require schools that open before Labor Day to shut down on the Friday before, creating a four-day weekend.
Nancy Knight, acting director of public affairs for the Michigan Education Association (MEA), said the MEA supports more flexibility in opening days. “Our position has always been that it should be up to local districts,” she said.
The state allows some districts that want to start before Labor Day to file waiver requests.
Schor said he has had lots of positive feedback from the education community.
“Local educators know best what works for their students, and if being in school prior to Labor Day is a better option in some schools then they should have that option,” Schor said. “I believe that my bill strikes a good balance that will let kids be in school yet also lets families fully enjoy the Labor Day holiday by not holding classes on the Friday before.’’
The bill has bipartisan support. Democrats who are co-sponsors include Reps. Sam Singh of East Lansing, John Kivela of Marquette, David Knezek of Dearborn Heights, Phil Cavanagh of Redford Township, Gretchen Driskell of Saline, Andrew Kandrevas of Southgate, Winnie Brinks of Grand Rapids, and Marcia Hovey-Wright of Muskegon.
Republican co-sponsors are Reps. Kurt Heise of Plymouth, Martin Howrylak of Troy and Bill Rogers of Brighton.