Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 24, 2018

Local schools make best decisions for students

By Kevin Kinney

Iowa’s public and private schools won’t be able to start next school year before the week of Sept. 1 because of a recent decision by Gov. Branstad.  The announcement surprised many schools, educators and parents.
For years, school calendar decisions have been made by local school boards based on their own community and student needs. Many schools have already approved next year’s school calendar because parents and students schedule their plans around the start of school, athletics and holiday breaks.
Supporters argue that local control over school calendars is necessary for several reasons, including:
• Dual-enrollment classes - Some want to align with a local college or university so that students can also take classes for college credit.
• Summer college courses - Teachers and students can take summer college courses when local school and college calendars align.
• Advanced Placement - Many students take Advanced Placement exams for college credit. The date of these exams is set nationally in early May. A later start date means less time for students to prepare.
• Scheduling exams - Many schools want to give first semester exams before winter break. This practical approach requires less reviewing and makes more time for new learning in the second semester.
Ensuring student achievement and success is the responsibility of our schools. The directive from the Governor to require a later school start date conflicts with ensuring students’ educational needs come first.
That’s why I voted this week for SF 227, which would allow the school calendar to be a local decision, taking into account local needs.