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Bill to end ban on pre-Labor Day school start to get first hearing

 michigan state capitol
Megan Schellong

A state House committee will hold its first hearing Tuesday on a bill to repeal a nearly two-decades-old law that requires schools to wait until after Labor Day to start classes unless they get permission from the state.

If approved by the Legislature and signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, it would cap an effort by school groups to reverse the requirement.

“Every area of the state is different. Every area of the state has different needs,” state Representative Matt Koleszar (D-Plymouth) said. The former educator is the bill sponsor and also chairs the House Education Committee.

“No two school districts are the same and giving them that flexibility can go a long way for doing what’s in the best interests of students and their communities."

The no-school-before Labor Day policy was enacted in 2006 largely to benefit Michigan’s tourism industry. Many districts already start pre-Labor Day because they have filed with the state for a waiver.

But school administrators and local education boards say they shouldn’t have to go back to the Michigan Department of Education every few years to ask for permission.

Starting before Labor Day would also leave more time at the end of the school year to schedule make-up days if they are needed. The bill would not affect school districts that operate on a year-round schedule.

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