Proposed School Start Date Rules

The Iowa Department of Education has issued a Notice of Intended Action to adopt changes to Chapter 12.  The rules changes are needed, in part, to implement the code change from instructional days to instructional hours or days.  They are also part of the promised crack down on early school start dates.

All but eight of 348 school districts received were granted requests to start school in August during the past school year.  Radio Iowa reports that thirty percent of school districts will be affected by the proposed rules.

The proposed rules appear to allow school districts to request a waiver to start the school year up to seven days–or eleven days, if September 1st falls on a Monday or Tuesday–early by passing a resolution declaring the existence of a significant negative impact.  For districts seeking to start earlier than that, the district must demonstrate significant negative educational impact by satisfying a majority of the following criteria:

  • “A start date of 7 days or less than the statutory start date is not feasible;” [Missing the word earlier here to describe the relationship between the seven days and the statutory start date?  How high a bar is “not feasible’?]
  • Academic achievement will be negatively impacted in the school district as measured by test scores and as supported by scientifically based research;
  • The statutory start date would harm academic achievement despite the use of hours rather than days for counting instructional time;
  • Taxpayer interests would be significantly harmed by the statutory start date because actual budget savings could be produced by an earlier start date;
  • The statutory start date will present a hardship to the district staff such that quality staff would be difficult to attract and retain, resulting in a negative effect on student achievement;
  • The statutory start date conflicts with extracurricular, community, or educational opportunities, resulting in a negative effect on student academic achievement;
  • The statutory start date prevents completion of the first semester prior to winter break, resulting in a negative effect on student academic achievement.

In other words, the interests of Iowa’s tourism industry outweigh pretty much every other interest–student, family, school administration, or community.

The Iowa Association of School Boards has the full text of the Notice of Intended Action.  A public hearing on the proposed rules will be held at 3:00 pm on Tuesday, September 10 (which is also School Election Day–Todd Dorman at The Gazette reminds us to take an interest).  Written comments can be submitted on or before 4:30 pm of the same day.  See the Notice of Intended Action for details.

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