ATLANTA - Georgia lawmakers are one step closer to making a change that would impact every family with kids in public school in Georgia -- pushing back the school start date.
A Senate committee that formed in the fall at the Capitol looked at the effects of pushing the school calendar back. Everyone present Thursday agreed it’s a good idea.
Channel 2’s Rikki Klaus sat in on a meeting with a Senate study committee at the state Capitol on Thursday.
Tasked with evaluating the pros and cons of pushing back the school calendar, a final report recommended students begin school no sooner than 10 days before Labor Day and end school around June 1.
It would make for a longer summer, but the school year would remain 180 days. The senators say the change is good for state tourism, for students who can gain skills at summer jobs and for parents who won’t need as much child care over multiple breaks.
“But also look at the safety issues dealing with some of our teenagers out there in the summer months on the school buses, where the temperatures exceed 110 to 120 degrees in the summertime,” said Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega).
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School districts, including Coweta and Gwinnett counties, told Klaus they know what’s best for their community and prefer to design their own calendars.
“It’s within parameters, but it is local control. They can set it up however they want within those parameters. Then we’re able to address all these other needs, as well," Sen. Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) said.
The legislators argued a pushed-back calendar would save money on air conditioning during the hottest time of the year and help dual enrollment students.
“To coordinate those start dates more with the Technical (College) System of Georgia and also the University System of Georgia,” Gooch said.
Some critics believe tourism interests drove Thursday's vote. They say taking control from local school systems is not in the children's best interest.
Legislators specializing in both education and tourism sat on the committee and were present Thursday. State Sen. John Wilkinson is the Education and Youth Committee vice chair, and Dugan is the Economic Development and Tourism Committee chairman.
Klaus asked Gooch what’s next, legislatively. He mentioned the report.
“We can send that out to the board of educations. We can send it to the members of the Legislature, and we can have a discussion in January as to where do we go from here and do we want to take further action," he said.
In the weeks and months to come, Channel 2 will keep you updated on this developing story that could affect most children in Georgia.
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