Gov. Kim Reynolds won't push change to Aug. 23 school start date law

Gov. Kim Reynolds (from left) answers a question as Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and m
Gov. Kim Reynolds (from left) answers a question as Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and moderator Ryan Wise, Director of Iowa Department of Education, look on during their “Computer Science from Kindergarten to College and Beyond” panel at the Governor’s 2018 Future Ready Iowa Summit at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines on Tuesday, Apr. 3, 2018. (Gazette file photo)

DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday she is willing to let Iowa’s Aug. 23 school start date law stand as is.

The Iowa Legislature and former Gov. Terry Branstad resolved a feud between Iowa’s tourist industry and education officials over when classes should begin when Branstad ended a hodgepodge of school start dates by signing legislation in April 2015 that says classes at Iowa’s K-12 public schools may start no sooner than Aug. 23 — the latest date that the 11-day Iowa State Fair ends.

This year the fair ended on Aug. 18, meaning schools had to wait four days before starting classes the following Friday.

In past legislative sessions since the law was enacted, bills have been offered to modify the 2015 law by saying the earliest date for classes to start would be Aug. 23 or the Monday following the closing day of the state fair, whichever occurs earlier. But the change has failed to get traction among legislators.

Representatives of education organizations have argued the modification would give them more flexibility in setting their school calendars, but officials from the tourism industry and county fairs have opposed the change, saying it would create economic hardships and undo a compromise.

During her weekly news conference Tuesday, Reynolds said she was content with the status quo.

“That’s not something that I’m going to push,” the GOP governor said, but added that legislators who want to take a look at it the issue were free to do so.

“It took us a long time to actually get to this point. It took a lot of bouncing back and forth between the chambers to get it agreed upon by both chambers and sent to former Gov. Branstad’s desk,” she said. “So that’s not something that I’m going to lead with.”

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