School Opening Day Bills Update

February 8, 2018

Many bills were introduced this session allowing local school boards to set their school calendar and determine the opening day of the school year, eliminating the post-Labor Day opening requirement and “good cause” scenarios for which the Board of Education may grant waivers of this requirement.  Seven bills were introduced, but as crossover nears, only two bills survive.

HB 36 (Kory), HB 38 (Habeeb), and HB 354 (Reid) were all identical to HB 1020 (Adams) and were unanimously laid on the table. Delegate Adams’ bill was chosen as the one to move forward.  House Education Subcommittee #1 recommended reporting HB 1092 by a vote of 6-2, the House Education Committee reported HB 1092, 16-6, and the measure ultimately passed the House, 75-24.

Delegate Roxann Robinson also introduced similar legislation, but with a slight tweak. Her bill, HB 372 (Robinson), requires that school boards that set the school calendar with a pre-Labor Day opening date, (except those schools that were granted a “good cause” waiver for the 2017-2018 school year) must close all schools in the division either from the Thursday immediately preceding Labor Day through Labor Day, or from the Friday immediately preceding Labor Day through the Tuesday immediately succeeding Labor Day.  The five-day weekend provision is intended to appease the hospitality industry, who traditionally is the most vocal – and successful – opponent to these bills.  HB 372 was recommended for reporting, 6-2, reported out of the House Education Committee, 16-6, and passed the House, 75-24.

Two similar bills were introduced in the Senate as well, though they did not fare as well as their House counterparts. SB 300 (Favola) sought to allow pre-Labor Day openings without the five-day weekend provision, but was eventually incorporated into SB 914 (Chase) that did have the five-day weekend provision.  The Senate Education and Health Committee moved to pass by indefinitely SB 914 by an 8-7 vote.

Both HB 372 (Robinson) and HB 1020 (Adams) have been referred to the Senate Education and Health Committee.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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