Many Iowa schools to see later start dates
School districts in Iowa can no longer assume they’ll be allowed to begin classes as early as they have in the past.
That decision was announced by the Iowa Board of Education on Friday, December 12, 2014.
The state Board of Education voted down the proposal to create stricter policies for start dates in Iowa in 2013. After continuing to hear from parents and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, the board again voted on the issue.
This time, they decided to tighten requirements for districts seeking waivers to state law, which says schools cannot begin classes prior to the week that includes September 1.
In a letter to district leaders dated December 12, Iowa Department of Education Director Brad Buck said those waivers to start school sooner will not be automatically granted.
Read it here: Brad Buck letter regarding Iowa school start dates
“Moving forward, the director or director’s designee will only consider a school or school district’s request for a waiver of the school start date if the school or school district has adequately demonstrated that starting on or after the earliest start date specified would have a significant negative education impact,” the letter said.
Buck said the department of education had received “numerous complaints” from parents and others about the automatic waivers granted to schools.
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad previously said he thought the policy of granting so many waivers “has not been fair to the tourism industry in Iowa.”
The Iowa State Fair was among tourism events Branstad said might be impacted by early school start dates. The 2015 Iowa State Fair was set for August 13 to 23.
“Starting in early to mid-August unnecessarily interferes with families’ summer plans and seasonal hiring while it does nothing to improve the quality of education,” Brantad wrote in a letter to Buck. “It also results in students missing class to participate in 4-H, FFA and other Iowa State Fair activities.”
In 2014, Davenport schools began classes August 18, classes began the week of August 11 in Bettendorf schools, the first day of school was August 13 for North Scott students and Muscatine students started school August 14.
Schools in Iowa must offer either 180 days or 1,080 hours of instruction for students each school year as of July 1, 2014. Districts have flexibility, while complying with state law concerning start dates, to decide how they comply with those minimum requirements.