Leave Our Calendar Authority Local
Local control of school calendars is once again facing a battle in Montgomery. Business and tourism industry advocates are once again lobbying heavy support for bills that would force local schools to push back the school start date, removing the authority to set school calendar dates from where it rightfully belongs -- with local school boards. AASB strongly opposes proposed legislative mandates that strip away decision-making power from local school boards.
A bill to restrict school calendar start and end dates was introduced in the Alabama House Thursday, March 5. H.411 (Hurst) would require schools start no sooner than the third Monday in August and end no later May 31. The bill also includes perfunctory language to give school boards authority they already have to set days within the calendar. If adopted, Alabama would be the first state to impose both a start date and an end date that does not extend into June. Only 14 states have school start date restrictions, and of these, only Maryland and North Carolina also restrict an end date (the second or third week of June).
Notably, the bill would not apply to community colleges or higher education, but would impact every child in K-12.
School boards want to retain the authority to create a school calendar and make educational decisions to promote student learning for which they are accountable. Each system builds its school calendar as a key instructional component to serve their students.
- Do your schools have a fall break?
- Do students in your system take exams before the two-week Christmas break?
- Does your school system schedule teacher in-service days at the start of the school year?
- Does your school calendar include days off for special community events and observances or for programmatic partnerships with local colleges and universities?
Your system's school calendar -- which often is developed with input from your parents and community members -- is compromised when lawmakers force arbitrary school start and/or end dates.
Oppose a school calendar mandate.
First and foremost, a school calendar should address student learning and instruction. Preserving school-based flexibility to design school calendars is essential to accommodate student learning needs, local education goals and each communities’ unique preferences. When schools must comply with a forced school start and/or end date, it causes educational, legal and financial consequences and causes disruption to local communities. Setting a school calendar impacts far more than the summer camp and tourism industries.
Let your voice be heard.
If you have not already done so, please place a school board resolution to oppose a mandated calendar on your next board agenda. Be sure to share the approved resolution with your lawmakers. Download a sample resolution.