Educational Editorial: Labor Day & Schools

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The General Assembly has again looked at the nearly 30 year old "post-Labor Day-opening" law for Virginia schools.

The Senate has sent a bill to the House that would give additional flexibility to the conditions under which a school board could qualify to open earlier.

Annually defended as an economic development issue, the law has been narrowly retained with lobbyists showing the revenue produced by having that last weekend for families to take in a park.

While State Superintendent, the General Assembly gave me the right to determine the exceptions…I gave so many that they took it from me.

The issue is whether or not the local school board should have control of the school calendar. The answer should be yes! The records will show that when school boards had this call they acted sensibly…when Labor Day was early they opened after and when it was late they opened before.

The House is likely to be tough on the Senate bill and the Governor has indicated that he would veto any repeal…but this is not a repeal, it is a modification.

In a time with less money, those confronting the day-to-day implications of difficult decisions should be given more flexibility. For state policy-makers it is tough to get the genie back in the bottle once de-regulation has occurred…but perhaps these genies should never have been in the bottle in the first place.

In a state that hallows local autonomy and when common sense says that those closest to the issues best understand the problems and solutions, this is an opportunity to give to local school boards more latitude in setting schedules.

Oh, if the state really wants to get into school schedules, perhaps they should try deciding when snow make up days should be taken.

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