EDUCATION

Bob McDonnell wants local governments to decide school year start

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Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell wants to give localities the ability to decide when public schools should start a new school year and Northern Virginia school leaders heartily agree.

Fairfax County Public Schools, the largest public school system in Virginia, has filed for waivers from the state to start school prior to Labor Day, without success.

School Board president, Janie Strauss says, "our students end up two to three weeks behind other states in preparation for standardized, scheduled testing. We need the ability to set our own schedules.”

Since 1986, the so-called Kings Dominion law, named after the Central Virginia amusement park, has prevented school systems from starting the school year before Labor Day.

The premise of the law was that the earlier start date would hurt tourism. However, Governor McDonnell contends that the actual harm is not allowing local counties to act as they see fit.

"We've got to let the educators at the local level do what they know is best for their students," McDonnell said.

Virginia is one of the only states in the nation where classes can't begin before labor day.

“I think there should be some kind of uniformity,” says Victor Osuagwu. “I mean, if Maryland starts before Labor Day and D.C. starts before Labor Day, I see no reason why Virginia shouldn't do the same.>

But that argument isn't holding up in Northern Virginia, where parents point to school getting out just days before the fourth of July.

“That whole month June would make a big difference in the school policy and I think it would make a difference in moral and attitude for the children,” says McLean resident Lawrence Jace.

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