Later school start date fails with a tie vote

By Adrianna Pitrelli
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS — Some Hoosier students will continue to go back to school as early as July after an effort to push the school start back date to the end of August failed. 

“Ten years ago school started starting earlier. Now there are schools that are starting in July,” Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, said. “With our seasons, it doesn’t make sense and there is no academic proof that it helps students.”

If passed, Senate Bill 88, authored by Leising, would have prohibited schools from starting the school year until the last Monday of August. However, the bill failed after a 25-25 vote.

Typically Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch would have broken the tie, but her mother, 91, died over the weekend. Therefore she was not present at Tuesday’s Senate session, which was the deadline for bills to pass to the House.

Because Crouch was not in attendance, the bill was not officially defeated, allowing the language of the bill to be placed in a different bill if the Senate finds it necessary.

It is not the responsibility of the General Assembly to dictate school curriculum, said Sen. Chip Perfect, R-Lawrenceburg, who voted against the bill.

“If you’re looking for accountability, there needs to be responsibility,” Perfect said. “If we want accountability in our school districts, its important they have responsibility of setting their own schedules.”

Perfect said if a parent or community is passionate about going to school at a later date, they should be able to speak up to their school board and community.

Leising argued that a later start date would benefit companies like Holiday World, as well as their 2,200 employees who are college-age or younger.

Students would be able to work extra weeks, allowing them to make more money and better develop their work skills, according to Leising.

Holiday World President Matt Eckert agreed with Leising. He said he hoped for a different outcome, saying a later start date would improve not only workforce development, but also the economy of Indiana.

“A later school start date allows for increased employment opportunities for youth, leading to improved soft skills, higher academic achievement, and increased probability of future employment,” Eckert said.

Adrianna Pitrelli is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. 

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