Lawmaker: All Pennsylvania schools should start after Labor Day
HARRISBURG (CBS) - The idea wasn't his. But state Rep. Jose Giral (D-Philadelphia) thought it was a good one, so he's introducing a bill that would establish a post-Labor Day start for Pennsylvania schools.
While campaigning last fall, "I was out there knocking on doors and visiting folks at community events, and a lot of parents were coming up to me, and they were talking about the school year," Giral said – specifically, telling him it should start after Labor Day.
Post-Labor Day school starts were once common but are increasingly rare. Pennsylvania's two largest school districts, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, both start the week before Labor Day, often in late August. Neither immediately responded to messages seeking reaction to a proposal by Giral proposal to require a post-Labor Day start.
Giral said advocates for extending the summer swayed him.
"As I started doing more research on the bill, I realized that it makes an impact economically" – $400 million annually in Pennsylvania, according to the memo he wrote asking other lawmakers to support the idea. "And I didn't realize that."
Giral said he has heard universally positive reactions to the idea from Pennsylvanians in his own district and beyond, as well as from colleagues who are interested in co-sponsoring the legislation.
But at least one key group of stakeholders isn't so sure.
"Implementation of a uniform start date for Pennsylvania's 500 school districts would further erode the principle of local control and has other repercussions that locally elected school boards are required to consider, such as extending the school year further into the summer, contractual obligations and weather-related events," the Pennsylvania School Boards Association told CBS News in a statement.
Giral's memo lists six states that have established post-Labor Day start dates: Maryland, Michigan, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Virginia – although several have either backed off the requirement or allowed exceptions. Giral said he's open to the idea of some kind of waiver process for districts.
Reaction from parents who spoke with CBS News in the Pittsburgh area was mixed.
"I think it's a good idea," said Allie Hartman, holding her preschool-aged son. "Anything to have more time with your children."
"I feel like they should get a longer break as well," agreed her fiancée, Anthony Filler.
Linda Caplan, a mother of grown children and retired teacher, said the change could be good for some families but not others. During a long summer break, children can forget what they learned the previous year, she said.
"So I would probably want them back sooner than later," she said.
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