ST. PAUL (AP) - The clash over the school calendar is back at the state Capitol.
Legislation that would allow Minnesota schools to begin before Labor Day has been introduced, igniting new debate over an issue that has had lawmakers going in circles over the years.
In 1985, the Legislature prohibited pre-Labor Day classes. In 1997, the rule was relaxed to deal with late Labor Days. The next year, schools got the OK to start before Labor Day as long as they waited until Sept. 1. Two years ago, the prohibition was reinstated, with a little room for special circumstances.
Sen. Ann Lynch, DFL-Rochester, is sponsoring the bill that would lift the ban again.
"Simply put, it allows districts to determine what their school calendars will be," Lynch said.
Proponents of an earlier start say it can help avoid pushing classes farther into June, when kids and teachers are growing more restive.
Enjoying a little vacation fun, Cassidy McCumsey jumped into a backyard pool in northeast Brainerd this past summer. Now legislators are debating a proposal that some fear would shorten the summer fun. Brainerd Dispatch/File » Purchase reprints of this photo.
"I have had the experience of having school go into the third week of June, and it's not an experience I would want to repeat," said Mounds View schools Superintendent Jan Witthuhn. By squeezing in a few days before Labor Day, "you could avoid going to school in those hot days of June, when everyone becomes hot-tempered."
But opponents of the bill are equally as vocal.
Minnesota's resort owners, State Fair entrepreneurs and others depend on student workers and family vacationers. They worry that help would desert them if school started before Labor Day.
Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, sponsored the 2005 law. He comes from a resort-rich part of the state and he pledged to take action against the latest proposal.
"I will not lose this battle. It took too many years to get it in place. It's not just about resorts, but about the State Fair and kids working in the summertime," Howes said. "Let them be kids. Give them their summer."
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