Lawmakers weigh desired local control, valued tourism revenue in debate over school year start

Associated Press

Debates over when the school year should begin are playing out in districts around the country, with lawmakers trying to balance concerns about local control, academic rigor and tourism revenue.

Business owners express growing worries that earlier starts in August hurt tourism revenue during the critical summer months. Many educators say starting sooner helps them better prepare students for standardized tests, Advanced Placement courses and end-of-semester exams.

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The tension boils down to whether state or local leaders should be deciding. Lawmakers in several states, including Iowa, Arizona, Maryland and Texas, are currently considering measures on opposite sides of the debate.

Iowa lawmakers are trying to find a compromise agreeable to educators and tourism officials. In Texas, which set a requirement in 2006, lawmakers are trying to give districts more flexibility.