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Reports from Policy Analysts

Voices Grow to Repeal Wisconsin School Start Date

Submitted On: Monday, April 3, 2017

Analyst: Cody-Johnson, Kris

A bill to repeal Wisconsin’s  September 1 school start date was introduced: Assembly Bill 103.  



Pushed by the tourism industry, Wisconsin enacted a law in 2000 that prohibited public schools from starting earlier than September.  Private, charter, and parochial schools were able to schedule their own start dates, though some followed the public school law because of busing agreements.  In order to fulfil the required hours of instruction, most public schools remain in session through the first week or two of June.



Because August is the tourism industry’s most profitable month after July, the tourism industry remains against this.  According to the Wisconsin State Journal , “Senate Education Committee Chairman Sen. Luther Olsen, whose district includes the Wisconsin Dells, said he’ll vote against any proposal — including the entire state budget — that would make such a change.” However, there are academic reasons for such a change, which would give high school students taking advanced placement classes more class time to prepare for advanced placement tests administered in May.  John Forester, director of the School Administrators Alliance, which represents about 3,000 principals, superintendents and other administrators, said more members are asking for flexibility on school start dates than they have in the past 15 years.  He also said districts responsible for bu sing private school students want to be able to have public and private schools start together.  While similar bills were introduced in 2007, 2013 and 2015, this year has a greater variety and numbers of school districts vocally advocating for the change.

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