State plans to delay start of school year - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

State plans to delay start of school year

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A big change is coming for students and parents in Iowa -- the Department of Education wants to push back the start of the school year.

State law is that school cannot start earlier than the calendar week of Sept. 1. However, the majority of districts request and receive automatic waivers from the DoE.

Now, districts will have to apply for an early start, and prove to the state that a September start would have a 'significant negative educational impact.'

The decision came Friday, in a letter from Director Brad Buck to educators.

"In recent years, the Department has received numerous complaints from parents and other community members alike about waivers of the school start date law," Buck wrote.

However, some local educators disagree. Dr. Anthony Voss is the superintendent of Hudson Schools. He said they receive very few complaints about their yearly schedule, which has previously included an early start date in August. He said an early start helps them finish the first term before Christmas.

"We also like to have our calendars aligned with local partners like Hawkeye [Community College] and the University of Northern Iowa," Voss said.

Still, some welcome the state's decision. Among them, Jolene Carolan, who has four children in the Hudson school system.

Carolan told KWWL that her children often miss the first week of school to show animals at the Iowa State Fair.

"We feel it's extremely important for them," she said. "They learn just as much there sometimes as they do in school."

Others in Hudson were ambivalent.

"It's not a really big deal for our family," said Kari Gronoski, whose freshman daughter attends Hudson.

The DoE's change comes after Governor Terry Branstad sent a letter to the director, requesting the update. He cites that an early start "unnecessarily interferes" with summer vacations, seasonal work, and the Iowa State Fair.

The new guidelines are effective for the 2015 school year. Voss said that's problematic, since many districts have already set their calandars.

Also, he said questions remain, such as the criteria the state will use to decide what justifies an early start.

Voss said he still plans to petition for an early start for Hudson, and believes local school boards should have the final say on yearly schedules.

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