Iowa’s School Calendar Could Change

The beginning of the school year could start later for students in Iowa.

A petition was filed with the state in early June, asking state leaders to tighten its school start laws. Under Iowa law, students aren’t supposed to go back to school until the week that includes September 1st. However, every year nearly every school district requests a waiver to start their academic year earlier.

For example, in the Iowa Quad Cites, both Bettendorf and Davenport students will start the 2013-14 school year the week of August 12th.

Some, like the ones behind the petition — Iowa State Fair Manager Gary Slater and 22 others groups – say starting that early is hurting the state’s tourism industry. WQAD found that some parents agree.

“A lot of the kids that participate in the Iowa State Fair have to take time away from school to go to fair,” says Nicole Gabriel. “That’s an experience that’s just as valuable as a lot of things they do in the classroom, so I think they should be able to do that and not have to miss school.”

Several parents echoed Gabriel’s thoughts, saying the earlier start time combined with a busy summer schedule makes it hard to plan family activities.

“Little League is almost over,” says Brenda Wisong. “However, we have a travel ball that goes through August and fall ball and it just doesn’t leave much time for family vacations.”

Other parents are less affected by the early start to the school year.

“It doesn’t really bother me too much,” says Sancho McDonald. “As long as the kids have their set amount of time to be in school.”

That time is very important, according to Bettendorf Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte. He tells News 8’s Angie Sharp that the main reason why they start in mid-August is so the first semester ends before winter break, preventing high school students from having to take finals after the break in January.

Dr. Schutte says they also try to coincide their schedule with the calendar of local colleges, since there is a bigger push in Iowa for dual-enrolled students or students who are also taking some college courses.

It seems as though there is the same philosophy in the Illinois Quad Cities. Moline students begin their school year on August 14th. The Rock Island-Milan School District starts on August 5th.

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