School Law Bulletin #2004/06

Changes Affecting Elementary and Secondary Education

Thursday, July 1, 2004

The General Assembly made only a few significant changes to public elementary and secondary school law this year. The session’s highest-profile issue, revision of the public school calendar, divided educators and the public alike. Starting in 2005, summer vacation will be longer for most students.With some exceptions, schools that operate on a traditional calendar will open for students no sooner than August 25 and close no later than June 10. In adopting these limits, the General Assembly took control of a decision that has traditionally been left to the discretion of local boards of education. As a part of the calendar revision, five teacher workdays were eliminated from the school year with no corresponding reduction in employee pay. Some observers viewed these changes as simply an effort to support the state’s tourism industry; others said the act was responsive to family concerns; some were concerned that teachers’ professional development would suffer; and yet others claimed it would improve and that student learning and performance would ultimately benefit. All agreed that the act was another step in the ongoing search for the proper balance between state and local control of public schools.

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