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House to vote soon on ending ban on pre-Labor Day school start

Lester Graham

A state House committee has taken a step toward repealing the law that says local schools cannot start classes before Labor Day.

The 2006 law was adopted to help the state’s tourism industry. It says schools have to get a waiver from the state to start classes before the final summer holiday. And most districts now do that.

Democratic Representative Matt Koleszar (D-Plymouth) chairs the House Education Committee and is the bill sponsor. He said schools shouldn’t need special permission to determine their calendars.

“This is local control for local school districts to do what is in the best interests of their students and their communities,” he said.

Koleszar said experience has shown the law isn’t necessary.

“I think the fact that over 70% of schools are already filing waivers and not one single waiver has been denied yet has shown that if schools want to start before Labor Day, they’re going to do it,” he said. “This just eliminates one unnecessary hoop for school districts to jump through.”

Koleszar said the later school start can also make it harder to schedule make-up days.

The bill was adopted on a bipartisan vote and now goes to the House floor.

The education committee also approved a bill that would ensure that absences on religious holidays would not affect the student count used to calculate per-pupil state aid. Last year, a student count day fell on the Yom Kippur Jewish holiday.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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