State Legislature Debates School Start Date

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Lawmakers in Montgomery could soon be changing the date students end their summer and return to class.  The issue would affect schools across the state.

The Alabama House of Representatives is expected to vote on the issue later this week.

Some representatives want school to begin two weeks prior to Labor Day.  However, one state representative is speaking out against the idea.

Alabama House Bill 360 would make students start school no sooner than two weeks prior to Labor Day and end the Friday before Memorial Day if approved.

Representative Phil Williams, who represents District 6, voted no on the bill as it came out of committee.

"Here we love our fall breaks," said Williams.  "We tend to vacation down at the beach anyway. They get our tax revenues when we go."

The Madison County representative says his colleagues in Baldwin and Mobile counties are pushing the bill to generate more money for the tourism industry.

"For montgomery to dictate to us in Huntsville, Madison County, and north Alabama when we would begin school, I fight that," Williams said.

Rep. Williams says the bill's sponsors estimate the state would see an extra $300 million a year.

The bill calls for school districts to maintain 180 full instructional days, but Rep. Williams says the bill and its numbers don't add up.

"I'm all for additional revenue, but if you force a start date, then you are going to extend the next year," said Williams.  "I never bought the math on this."

The superintendents of schools in Madison County, Madison and Huntsville do not like the bill.  They told us they prefer to have their school board decide the school calendar.

Some of the calendars are already complete and would require a lot of work to change them.