Starting schools in early August or even late July when it’s 90 degrees outside makes absolutely no sense.
This newspaper has advocated for years for either the state or individual school districts to set the first day of school closer to Labor Day.
Thinking logically, it simply isn’t smart to have children waiting outside in extreme heat for a school bus to pick them up, nor does it make any sense for them to ride on hot buses that have no air conditioning.
Is it going to take children fainting from heat exhaustion or worse for the state or these individual school districts to act?
We don’t want any of this to happen, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it did, given the extreme heat children must endure on these buses.
Something needs to change.
One advocate who has been pushing to start school a few weeks later is state Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown. Thayer says starting school in early August when it’s 90 degrees outside isn’t beneficial for our children or for tourism and the tax revenue it generates.
Thayer makes a good point not only in regard to children having to endure this early August heat, but he also makes a very good argument in relation to tourism. He says our state parks become ghost towns as children head back to school as early as the last week of July in some districts. Another argument he makes is that it doesn’t make sense to put a lot of time, money and resources into holding a state fair when children are already in school by the time it begins.
There is no telling how much our local communities and state are losing from tourism by starting our schools so early in August.
In a state as poor as Kentucky, we need every dollar we can get, which is just one of the many reasons our schools need to start closer to Labor Day.
It is also worth mentioning the additional air conditioning costs school districts incur in extreme heat by starting school so early.
During this year’s legislative session, Thayer proposed a bill that would have shifted the statewide start of the school year to late August. People who wanted school calendars to stay under local control opposed the idea, so it was later amended to instead provide an incentive rather than a mandate for delaying the start date for schools.
The updated proposal, which was approved by a wide margin in the Senate only to be shot down in the House, would have allowed school boards willing to begin their academic year toward the end of August to have more flexibility in designing the school calendar.
This sounded like a very fair compromise offered by Thayer. Instead of the state mandating when schools must start, he offered individual school districts the option of beginning later in August.
Thayer plans to reintroduce the measure that incentivizes a later start date when next year’s legislative session begins in January.
In Thayer’s legislation, no one can claim that he is trying to take away local control. He’s offering local control, which is what is needed.
It should be of no surprise that the Kentucky Education Association, the state’s teachers union, is against the legislation. They are the ones who are all about control, not Thayer.
KEA officials say they don’t support legislation that infringes on the ability of school districts to set and manage their calendars.
But Thayer’s legislation doesn’t infringe on school districts to set and manage calendars; it gives them the option to do so.
It is way past time that Thayer’s legislation became law. We owe it to our children to keep them out of excessive heat. Pushing back the start of the school year is a no-brainer from a safety, tourism and financial standpoint.
We hope the House will consider this common-sense legislation next session and vote to pass it so the governor can sign it into law.
It’s the right thing to do.
Bowling Green Daily News