The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Monday, February 3, 2014
By STACEY HAIRSTON - Staff Writer
Bills introduced in the Virginia General Assembly would allow local school boards to set their own school calendars and determine the opening day of the school year.
One of the items on the Franklin County School Board's list of legislative goals this year is the repeal of the requirement for school divisions to start after Labor Day.
Currently, if a school division wants to start earlier, a special request must be submitted and approved each year by the Virginia Board of Education (BOE).
One bill, HB610, would eliminate the post-Labor Day opening requirement and "good cause" scenarios for which the BOE may grant the waivers.
"It is helpful for Franklin County public schools to have a calendar that more closely follows the community college for course alignment purposes," said Dr. Mark Church, school superintendent. "Our students could graduate high school and enter a community college summer session. Sometimes, we have students who finish high school at mid-semester. They could start community college with the spring semester."
School board members want localities to decide which school calendar fits the needs of their students and residents. Starting school before Labor Day allows schools to "build in" days in case days are missed because of the weather.
"School boards should have the freedom to set their school calendars as they see fit to meet the needs of their students," the board said.
Another bill, HB577, would permit a school division's superintendent to set the academic calendar for any school that has failed to achieve full accreditation status or for all of the division's schools if more than 15 percent of them have failed to achieve full accreditation status.
This proposed legislation would not affect Franklin County schools because all county schools are fully accredited for the 2013-2014 school year.