A bill, House File 13, was introduced in the Iowa House that would eliminate the limitation on when schools could start school. This comes on the heels of Iowa Governor Terry Branstad asking the Iowa Department of Education to stop offering automatic waivers for schools who want to start school earlier than the week of September 1st.
The law currently reads:
The school year for each school district and accredited nonpublic school shall begin on July 1 and each regularly established elementary and secondary school shall begin no sooner than a day during the calendar week in which the first day of September falls but no later than the first Monday in December. However, if the first day of September falls on a Sunday, school may begin on a day during the calendar week which immediately precedes the first day of September.
The bill would change the law to instead read, “the school year for each school district and accredited non-public school shall begin on July 1” striking the rest of the language in that paragraph. The bill also reads:
The board of directors of a school district and the authorities in charge of an accredited nonpublic school shall determine the school start date for the school calendar and shall set the number of days or hours of required attendance for the school year as provided in section 299.1, subsection 2, but the board of directors of a school district shall hold a public hearing on any proposed school calendar prior to adopting the school calendar.
The bill would return control of setting the school start date to local school districts eliminating the need to ask for a waiver from the Iowa Department of Education which up until this school year automatically approved requested waivers. HF 13 enjoys bipartisan sponsorship as State Representatives Ron Jorgensen (R-Sioux City), Quentin Stanerson (R-Center Point), Kevin Koester (R-Ankeny), Rob Taylor (R-Adel), Cindy Winckler (D-Davenport), Sharon Steckman (D-Mason City), Scott Ourth (D-Ackworth), Chris Hall (D-Sioux City), John Landon (R-Ankeny), Greg Forristall (R-Macedonia), Patti Ruff (D-McGregor) and Jake Highfill (R-Johnston).
Stanerson, Forristall and Winckler make up the subcommittee tasked address the bill which is likely to be approved by that subcommittee, the House Education Committee to be considered on the House floor.