New bill allows Michigan schools to decide whether the first day is before or after Labor Day

Posted at 8:12 AM, Mar 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-27 08:12:04-04

The first day of school in Michigan is back up for debate. A Republican state lawmaker has introduced a bill giving Michigan public school districts the power to decide to begin school before Labor Day without requesting a waiver.

Senator Marty Knollenberg (R-Troy), says its time to give control back to the school districts. He says, “I think these decisions belong solely in the hands of the school districts and the communities they serve. Parents, teachers and school administrators know what’s best for their children and their community.”

The state switched the first day of school to after Labor Day in the 2006-2007 school year to help boost Michigan's tourism. Under the current law, Michigan Public Schools must begin after Labor Day unless they have requested a waiver from the State Department of Education to begin before Labor Day. Dozens of local schools including Waverly, and Jackson County schools applied for waivers and started in August last year after the number of required teaching days went up from 175 to 180.

Knollenberg's bill would modify the law and allow schools to open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays in August. He says the compromise will still allow for a four day weekend leading up to Labor Day. “An increasing number of school districts are requesting waivers, with sixty percent being approved,” Knollenberg said.

Knollenberg’s bill also maintains the state’s yearly number of required school days at 180. “I view the waiver process as nothing more than burdensome government involvement in a decision that has no business being in the state’s hands,” he said. “We’re asking school districts to jump through hoops to make a decision they feel is best for their students.”

The legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee On Education.