School superintendents across Alabama are scrambling to firm up calendars for the next couple of years. The Alabama Legislature, on May 1, approved a bill mandating summer vacations be extended in an effort to boost the state's tourism industry.
Under the measure, schools cannot begin until at least two weeks before Labor Day and must conclude by May 24th. Tourism officials say revamping the calendar could boost their dollars by at least $300-million per year. State Senator Trip Pittman (R-Daphne) predicts tax revenue from longer summer break could reach about $22-million in much needed revenue.
However, not everyone agrees with Pittman's optimistic prediction. The Legislative Fiscal Office believes the positive dollar impact of longer summer vacations for would be minimal.
Superintendent Tim Wilder of Dothan, like most of his counterparts across Alabama, opposes the measure but realizes it's something with which he'll likely have to contend. "The good thing about (the bill) is it mandates students attend classes 1080 hours per year instead of 180 days as is now the case." Wilder said. By increasing school days by a few minutes it could keep the length of in-term breaks, such as Christmas holidays, intact.
The superintendent said he's reconvened a committee which helps with school scheduling. "They'll be meeting and looking at what we need to do." If less, yet a bit longer, school days are the result--and that seems likely---teacher work days would also be cut. However, under the bill, their pay could not be reduced.
The bill allows school systems to set their own start and end dates for terms as long as those are scheduled during dates set by lawmakers. Those dates are, under the measure, mandated only the next two school years at which time the House and Senate will revisit the issue.
The bill is not yet a done deal---still requiring a signature from Bentley. An email sent Friday morning to the governor's office seeking comment was not immediately answered. However, Press Secretary Jennifer Ardis has previously said her boss has issues with taking control away from the local level. She stopped short of saying Bentley would veto the measure.