Florida’s public schools should be able to start new school years as early as Aug. 10 — two weeks earlier than they can open this year — Florida Senate leaders say, agreeing to a plan already approved by the House.
The reason it changed was a grass roots effort in South Florida by a group of elementary school parents who wanted a summer vacation from mid June-ish to the end of August. It does make more sense the way it used to be so that the semester ends before Winter Break and lines up with colleges.
Lawmakers have been debating school calendars this session but had been divided on the issue of start times, with the House pushing for an Aug. 10 start and the Senate suggesting the third Monday in August (or Aug. 17 this year).
Some educators want an earlier start so the first semester can be wrapped up before Christmas. But tourism leaders and some parents and teachers say an early start hurts tourism and infringes on family vacation time.
Current law — in place since 2006 — forbids most schools from opening any earlier than two weeks before Labor Day (or Aug. 24 this year). A small number of “high performing” school districts, including Seminole County’s in recent years, have been exempt from that rule.