Lawmakers Debate Indiana School Start Date

Bill Proposal Could Move Start Date To Late August

State lawmakers are considering several bills that would require schools to start later in the summer, as opposed to the first week of August.

Republican Sen. Mike Delph of Carmel has proposed legislation that would require Indiana public schools to start after Labor Day and end before June 10.

Delph and advocate group Save Indiana Summers argued that a later school start date is better for families, tourism and the economy, but the Indiana Association of Public School superintendents told RTV6's Kara Kenney that shorter breaks are better for student learning.

“With kids who have difficulty learning, we know that when they have a large summer gap off, the loss of their learning is really magnified,” said John Ellis with the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents. “To have this come up for the third year in a row is just incomprehensible.”

Republican Sen. Jean Leising of Oldenburg said a better compromise would be to require schools to start no sooner than the fourth Monday in August.

“Parents come to me constantly telling me about their concern for earlier school start dates and what it's doing to them permanently by taking away family time," Leising said.

Becky Bechtel with Save Indiana Summers agreed.

“We’re putting kids in non-air-conditioned classrooms on Aug. 1 or Aug. 7,” Bechtel said. “No reasonable person can learn in that kind of environment. We want our kids playing with other kids, enjoying the pools, tennis courts and camps.”

Ellis said it should be up to the school districts, not the state, to decide their calendar.

He also pointed to a survey of 321 people, 92 percent of whom said the local school board should decide the calendar, and 8 percent said the state legislature should make the call.

The survey also found 42 percent of parents support a mid-August start, 33 percent prefers starting the week of Aug. 20, and 14 percent want to start the last full week of August and 11 percent support starting school after Labor Day.

Many school districts in central Indiana are going to balanced calendars, with earlier start times and shorter breaks sprinkled throughout the school year.

Ellis said 48 percent of districts prefer the traditional schedule, and 52 percent prefer a balanced calendar.

Leising and Save Indiana Summers said they hear the opposite, and that many parents want more time with their kids during the summer.

To read the full proposal, click here.

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