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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Proposal to change Florida school start dates falls short again



The first day of classes in Florida schools appears stuck at no earlier than two weeks before Labor Day despite continued efforts by district leaders to gain more flexibility.

A Republican-sponsored bill to relax the calendar requirements failed to gain a hearing in the House Education Committee this week, despite being on the agenda, leaving it for dead in that side of the Legislature. The Senate version has gained even less traction, not even being scheduled for discussion by any of its three assigned committees.

The proposal would have let districts start school five days earlier than otherwise permitted so long as the districts would guarantee the end of the first semester before winter break. Many districts already attempt to end the first semester before that two-week vacation, with officials saying it makes sense for students to take their semester tests while the information is still fresh in their minds.

Setting up their calendars proves vexing, though, because the conditions on when they can start often creates a shorter semester that can affect the number of other days off students may take without jeopardizing rules on minimum class hours to earn credits.

On the other side of the equation, though, are families and tourism businesses including theme parks that oppose any effort to shorten summer. The debate comes up each year, but doesn't get far. That appears to be the case again this year, unless someone revives the measure by adding it to another bill already headed to the floor. District lobbyists say they don't expect that to happen.

If not, look for school to begin in the fall around August 19-20.

[Last modified: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 9:34am]


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