Sen. Marty Knollenberg
Sen. Marty Knollenberg

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation that would allow school districts to begin classes before Labor Day was introduced in the state Senate on Thursday.

“For me, this is an issue of local versus state control,” said state Sen. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy. “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.”

Current state law, which began with the 2006-2007 school year, prohibits school districts from starting school before Labor Day weekend. There are only two other states with this prohibition. Michigan’s law does include the option for school districts to request a waiver that would exempt them from the law if approved.

Senate Bill 271 modifies this requirement to allow schools to open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in August. This compromise preserves the economic benefit of four-day weekends leading up to Labor Day weekend.

“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. Under his legislation, school days may simply spread out a little more evenly, as decided by local school boards.

“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 bills were introduced with bipartisan support and have been referred to the Senate Committee on Education for further consideration.