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‘School Calendar Choice Act’ Strives To Be Step Towards Public School Local Control

As his first piece of legislation, state Senator Van Taylor (R-Plano), introduced Senate Bill 296 or the “School Calendar Choice Act,” which would toss out the state’s requirement that school districts begin their school year following the fourth Monday in August. It’s a change that would create a little bit of local control for public school officials to decide on the start and end dates for the academic year.

According to the Dallas Morning News, some districts were starting their school year on the first week of August when the law was changed several years ago.

Lawmakers had set a mandatory starting date in response to widespread complaints that many districts were beginning classes earlier and earlier in the summer, disrupting family vacations and depriving summer-based businesses of young employees.

Taylor’s bill would return the decision on that starting date to local school districts beginning next school year.

“Allowing schools the flexibility to adjust their calendar is a common sense solution that would yield meaningful results,” said the Collin County senator.

A press release issued by Taylor’s office noted that this was a priority issue for the public school districts in Senate District 8, which includes the Collin County municipalities of Richardson, Plano, Allen, Lucas, Fairview, McKinney, Murphy, Parker, a section of Frisco, and a portion of Dallas County.

Taylor’s bill was met with unanimous community support, according to the press release.

“Parents, teachers, and local schools know far better what will work best in their community than politicians in Austin,” Taylor said in the press release.

“Our children’s education is far too important to be held hostage by petty political battles and third-party interests. After months of meeting with local parents, school administrators and school boards, it is clear that allowing schools the flexibility to adjust their calendar is a commonsense solution that would yield meaningful results,” Taylor said.

Nancy Humphrey on the Plano Independent School District (ISD) Board of Trustees called this bill “one piece of the larger topic of local control,” emphasizing it was very important to Texas public schools, the Plano Star Courier reported.

Richardson ISD Superintendent Dr. Kay Waggoner said the proposed legislation was the result of conversations Taylor had within his constituents’ communities. She added, “I applaud his efforts to secure more local control for our public schools.”

In addition to filing his first piece of education legislation, Taylor was appointed by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick to serve on the Senate Public Education Committee on January 23.  The committee is chaired by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood). Breitbart Texas reported that the other appointees are Vice Chair Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville), Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels), Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston), Don Huffines (R-Dallas), Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso), Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), and Royce West (D-Dallas).

Breitbart Texas reached out to the Collin County senator for further comment on SB 296 but did not hear back from him before press time.

Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.

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