Henrico asks to start school year early

Posted at 9:04 AM, May 24, 2012
and last updated 2012-05-24 13:25:47-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) -  Henrico County Schools want to open before Labor Day. Henrico County School Superintendent Pat Russo went before the  Virginia Board of Education Thursday. He asked the board to approve a waiver for the county.

State law dictates school districts must apply for a waiver in order to open before Labor Day.

Henrico said it wanted to open earlier so high school students could have more learning time before taking AP exams. They also said an earlier start would allow the high school calendar to match up with the college calendar. Some high school students take dual enrollment courses, which means they're taking high school and college classes.

“Having the students who take AP exams have those extra two weeks, having exams prior to our winter break given by our high school students,” said Dr. Russo.  "So instructionally there are a number of advantages we feel will benefit our students.”

The earlier start to the school year would apply to elementary and middle schools too, even though those students don't take AP tests or college courses.

However not everyone is in favor of Henrico’s school start proposal.  Tom Lisk is the legal counsel for the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association.  The attorney said changes to the legislation could take the tourism industry on an unpleasant economic roller coaster.

“The impact of just those two weeks of Labor Day means hundreds of millions of dollars to the tourism industry, as well as to the state economy,” said Lisk.

Thursday's meeting was a chance for the state board of education to review and consider the proposed change.  A decision surrounding Henrico School’s start date is expected in June.

Click here to read Henrico's argument for opening school before Labor Day.

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