Another battle is looming between the tourism industry and educators over giving North Carolina school systems more flexibility on when to start and end the school year.
One of the first bills filed Wednesday in the General Assembly, House Bill 9, would restore the ability of the State Board of Education to give local school districts calendar flexibility waivers for specific educational programs. The ability to grant those education purpose waivers so schools can start before Aug. 26 and/or end after June 11 was removed in 2012.
The bill’s bipartisan group of sponsors includes state Rep. Craig Horn, an influential Republican from Weddington. A previous version of the bill had been introduced in May but House Bill 1049 stalled in committee during the short session.
Since 2004, the state has regulated when public schools could open and end the school year. The legislation was heavily supported by the tourism industry,
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Over the past decade, school districts have complained about the calendar law. Both the Wake County school system and the N.C. School Boards Association have included school calendar flexibility in their 2015-16 legislative agendas.
The state House Study Committee on Education Innovation, which Horn co-chaired, issued a final report in December that called for restoring the waivers for calendar flexibility and further study of the issue of mandatory start and stop dates for schools.
Once the study committee’s report was released, the N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association posted on its website that it would fight the waiver legislation “and other bills that would weaken the summer tourism season by shortening the length of public school summer vacations.”