Bacon: Too soon to head back to school?

Posted by: Hannah Carlock  | Friday, August 4, 2017 9:48 am

The new school year is upon us, although it seems like yesterday that my grandkids were just getting off of the bus for summer break. While some may feel ready to get their kids back to school, others may think the break was a bit short. The topic of school start dates is one that has and continues to be discussed by policymakers.

Way back when I was a student, I remember we started the school year the Tuesday after Labor Day and got out for summer break the Friday before Memorial Day weekend. I know times have definitely changed since my days in high school, but this has been an ongoing topic of conversation for many years.  

A bill was introduced in the Senate this year that would have pushed the start date of the school year to the last week of August. Even though this bill failed to pass by one vote, I have been speaking with legislative colleagues and suspect debate over the start date of the school year will continue in the next legislative session.

There are various opinions on whether or not the state should even weigh in on when schools should open their doors for the year, or if this is a decision best made by local school boards. Complicating the issue are guidelines that need to be followed coming from the federal level. Students are required across the nation to receive 180 days of instruction. We also need to account for teacher training days and holidays, which can make constructing the school calendar difficult.

Multiple parents have expressed concern about the lack of time they can spend with their families because of a short summer vacation. Another concern brought to my attention comes from those with children who take time off from school to attend the Indiana State Fair to finish presenting award-winning 4-H projects or help out on the farm during the busy season.

Businesses in our area have also been opposed to students going back so early in August, including Holiday World. About 75 percent of the park’s workforce is made up of high school and college students. According to Holiday World’s president, the park has had to close earlier and earlier each year due to loss of employees.

These are all valid points that need to be considered, but I also see why schools are starting early as many school corporations are moving to a balanced calendar in order to have students finish their first semester before taking a two-week holiday break in December.

Regardless of what is decided and who makes those decisions, what is best for our students in order to prepare them for the workforce is the priority.

If you have input on this issue, please contact me at 317-232-9833 or by email at h75@iga.in.gov. I appreciate hearing from you in order to better represent our district.

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State Rep. Ron Bacon (R-Chandler) represents House District 75,
which includes portions of Warrick, Pike and Spencer counties.

A high-resolution photo of Bacon can be downloaded by clicking here