When will the 2014- 2015 school year begin? Whenever school district leaders want the year to start.
Wednesday, Governor Phil Bryant signed Senate Bill 2571. Among other things, the legislation reverses a previous law requiring public schools to start on or after the third week of August.
"Under Senate Bill 2571, local school districts will have the authority to set their start dates. I encourage all districts to consider the needs of students, families and communities when developing their calendars. Inconsistent school start and end dates can have an impact on enrollment in summer school programs for both students and teachers and can also have an impact on tourism throughout the state," Gov. Bryant said.
Tourism leaders were pushing for a later school year start date to help boost the summer tourism season. And apparently, Governor Bryant wasn't completely on board with the idea of changing the current law, set to go into effect with the 2014-2015 school year.
"Had the Legislature chosen to send me the school start date change in a stand-alone bill instead of attaching it to a measure that includes many beneficial education changes, I might have taken different action with regard to that provision."
Senate Bill 2571 also includes language to amend state rules regarding withdrawal of school accreditation in A and B-rated districts. Under the new law, students in schools that lose accreditation for any reason other than academic failure or financial accountability can continue to participate in extracurricular activities.
Previous policy had required curtailment of all extracurricular activities, regardless of whether or not students were performing well academically.
The bill also adjusts policy that regulates the purchasing of school supplies. The new law will enable eligible teachers to obtain procurement cards earlier and more efficiently, allowing them more control over when and how supplies are purchased for their classrooms.
"With this change, individual teachers will have more control over how to spend supply dollars in their classrooms, and they will receive those funds in a more efficient manner," Gov. Bryant said.
Senate Bill 2571 also includes changes that allow students participating in dual enrollment programs to receive credit for courses that are included in the state's subject-area testing requirements. Through dual enrollment, students who are at risk of not graduating high school can enroll in career technical courses at a community or junior college while completing the requirements for a high school diploma.
The new law allows those students to receive credit for taking Algebra I, biology, English II and U.S. History through the dual enrollment process. The students are still required to pass each required subject area test.
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