Alabama lawmaker plans to propose later school start date for ‘full summer’

GADSDEN, Ala. (WIAT) — An Alabama lawmaker thinks school is starting too early, and plans to propose legislation that could push back the start date.

Etowah County Representative Craig Ford told CBS 42 that he thinks pushing the start date back a few weeks will allow the state more time to collect additional revenue from beach tourism.

“Alabama has the beaches so why not? That’s feeding our tourism dollars and that’s feeding our education trust fund. This is a way to increase more revenue for our schools without having to raise people’s taxes,” said Ford by phone.

The lawmaker has proposed similar bills in the past, but he said it has been a few years. While some superintendents previously voiced concerns about local control, Ford says under his proposal, a lot of decisions would be left up to individual districts.

“Each school system will still be allowed to do their own calendar that’s what’s important because Talladega needs to work around the race, Dothan needs to work around the peanut festival. It just has a beginning and an end date,” Ford said.

In addition to tourism benefits, Ford believes school districts may save on building cooling costs during one of the hottest months.

Ford said a later start date would also coincide with many of the state’s four year schools.

Allowing students and others to continue working summer or ‘seasonal’ jobs would be another benefit, Ford said.

In a Facebook post, Ford wrote that a previous law that allowed for a ‘full summer’ was not renewed by the legislature in 2012.

“In 2012, the state legislature passed a School Start Date bill that mandated a longer summer break for our public schools. It was a bill that had broad bipartisan support. Supporters argued that extending the summer break would benefit families, students, employers, Alabama’s tourism industry and even the government. But then the legislature failed to renew it, and the state did not get to feel the maximum benefits of the law,” Ford wrote.

According to Ford, he plans to introduce a bill in the next legislative session. If it passes, it would not take effect until the following school year.

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