A bill that would prevent students from returning to classes until the fourth Monday in August seems to be making the rounds once again during the legislative session in Indianapolis.

And local school administrators aren't any more excited this time around to see it get a hearing.

“I don't like it,” said South Knox superintendent Tim Grove. “They talk all the time about local control and yet [this bill] takes local control completely out of it.

“I can understand why some schools would want to start later, go later, so good for them,” he said. “But that doesn't work for us here.”

Under Senate Bill 88, state public schools wouldn't be allowed to resume classes before the fourth Monday in August.

Here, school starts either the first or second week of August, and since most graduation ceremonies aren't held until the latter part of May, postponing the start of school by as much as two weeks means students wouldn't let out for the summer until mid-June.

They must, per state law, get in a full 180 days of instruction.

The authors of the bill say it's a step toward improving aspects of Indiana's economy, specifically those driven by a teenage workforce.

Wadesville Sen. Jim Tomes, a co-author, told the Evansville Courier and Press that his constituents are concerned about the impact of summer jobs, specifically those at Holiday World & Splashin' Safari.

Matt Eckert, president of Holiday World, told the Courier that 75 percent of their seasonal employees are college-aged and younger, meaning the business' operating schedule revolves around students being available to work.

During the 2017 season, they'll stop opening daily on Aug. 9, three days earlier than last year, the report said.

Locally, Steve Beaman, superintendent of the Vincennes Parks and Recreation Department, has made a similar argument. The pool is only open on the weekends in August — even though the weather is usually still quite warm — because once students go back to school, he loses his staff of lifeguards.

Co-author Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, told the Courier she wants the bill for a variety of reasons, such as saving costs on air conditioning the schools in August and prompting schools to stay away from lengthy breaks during the school year, which she says can make taking vacations and providing childcare challenging.

She also wants to ensure those in 4-H have enough time to work on projects and make it to the various fairs, she told the Courier. The Indiana State Fair went until Aug. 21, 2016, meaning many 4-H'ers missed classes while in Indianapolis carrying for and showing their animals.

And while those arguments have merit — at least for some Hoosier communities — local school superintendents say the decision should be made at the local level.

“That's why we have locally-elected school boards,” said Greg Parsley, superintendent of the Vincennes Community School Corp. “That's my primary point of disagreement with Senate Bill 88. This bill seems to come up every legislative session, and I've seen it take all forms. But what it's ultimately doing is dictating when schools can start.

“And that's a decision that should be left up to the local board.”

Grove, too, said the bill made “zero sense,” to him, and while he understands the plight of school corporations close to Holiday World, that's exactly why a school calendar should be left up to local boards to draft.

“Maybe I'm not seeing it from their prospective, but they're not looking at it from ours,” Grove said. “What might be good for you isn't at all good for us.

“We have 180 days to get in. Let us decide how we do it.”

North Knox superintendent Darrel Bobe said teachers and families have come to enjoy longer fall and Christmas breaks, so why legislators claim to know what is best for all is somewhat puzzling.

If an amusement park, major employer or even a farming industry warrants a later start-date, then let that be a battle fought at the local level instead, he said.

“If we do that, where does it stop?,” he asked. “Do they tell us what hours we go? What days of the week? And what makes the fourth Monday of August so special anyway?

“To me, it's just silly to take that control out of local hands.”

The bill is expected to be heard by the Senate's education committee on Feb. 1

To become a law, the bill would have to get Senate approval then move on to the House of Representatives for approval and then be signed by the governor.

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