Deal To Revise School Calendar Law Dies, But Fall Break Could Return

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-An effort to override a law that determines when schools can begin and end the academic year is dead, but local lawmakers say fall break will live again regardless.

Sen. Bill Holtzclaw (R) of Madison told WHNT News 19 that a proposed deal which would have allowed north Alabama school systems to opt out of the statewide calendar law ended up falling apart due to political posturing from Gulf Coast lawmakers. Holtzclaw said his offer would have added the opt-out provision to the calendar law starting this fall in exchange for making the legislation permanent. The law is currently set to expire at the end of the 2013-14 school year, meaning local school boards will regain full control over their start and stop dates.

"We made a great win-win solution on the table, and sometimes in life folks get greedy," said Holtzclaw, who added that potential negotiations for extending the law were now off the table. "They [Calendar Law supporters] wanted everything their way. They failed to realize the impact when everything is going to be lost for them...At the end I really wished we had the alternative of fall break in the 2013-14 school year, but the good news is we'll have full control back in the 2014-15 school year, and this little experiment will have proven to fail."

The present setup of the School Calendar law prevents school systems from starting any earlier than two weeks before Labor Day, or past Memorial Day. The new state mandate led to the elimination of fall break in most districts. Supporters of the calendar law said longer summers would lead to added tax revenue due to increased tourism, but Holtzclaw said an analysis showed that the argument never materialized, with many quickly souring on the bill.

The new system was approved by significant majorities in both the Alabama State House and Senate in May 2012, with the bulk of opposition coming from lawmakers in the north part of the state. Gov. Robert Bentley vetoed the bill, but it was overridden by both bodies of the legislature.

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