Sen. Leonidas P. Raptakis has introduced legislation to standardize the annual start of the calendar for Rhode Island schools.
The bill (2016-S 2262) would require public schools, including charter schools, to begin the school year on the day after Labor Day. Labor Day is observed on the first Monday of September.
“We’ve been talking a lot about consolidation lately,” said Senator Raptakis. “There has been discussion for a statewide teacher contract and to consolidate school districts. And having a uniform, statewide start time for the school calendar now would help with those efforts later. Our public colleges — URI, RIC and CCRI — all start at the same time, the day after Labor Day. And if you’re a parent with young children, you’re going to know for the next 12 years when the opening of school will be and you can plan accordingly.”
The senator also pointed out that under the current system, if you have different aged children in different schools, with different start times, it makes it difficult to plan family vacations that cut too close to the start of school.
Three other states, Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia, have adopted laws mandating that schools start the day after Labor Day — a move that was applauded by the tourism industry in those states.
“Tourism is big business in Rhode Island,” said Senator Raptakis. “It will certainly help businesses that rely heavily on summer revenue such as restaurants or summer rentals. Extending that summer vacation can add revenue to the state. You take away a chunk of August and it can have some serious ramifications on the tourism industry in Rhode Island. Also, many people plan family time with their children in August. For some parents, it may be the only time they have to spend any extended quality time with their children. And that’s just as important for growth and development.”
The legislation has been referred to the Senate Education Committee.