School Calendar

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A bill to push back the start of the public school year in Florida cleared its first hurdle in Tallahassee. The proposal would set the first week before Labor Day as the earliest any school district could begin classes.

At least one panhandle school district is preparing two school calendars just in case.

Washington County students will still go to class 180 days. The question is, when will they start?

State lawmakers will debate the school calendar bill beginning in March, but school districts all over the state are already making plans for next year.

Calvin Stevenson, Washington County School Superintendent, says, "We are going to have two calendars in place just in case. We're going to be ready."

Washington County's current school year started on August 1 to coincide with Chipola College and Washington Holmes Tech. School officials say they haven't gotten many opinions from parents concerning the change in calendar.

"Most of my information have come from the teachers . They really prefer having the semester end at Christmas. They like that. They like the breaks we have worked out."

Supporters of the bill point out the later start date will allow families more time for summer vacations, allow teens more time for summer jobs and allow Florida businesses to extend the tourism season. They also say it will cut down on schools' utility bills and there would be less chance of closures due to hurricanes.

But those same school districts have service contracts and obligations that could be time sensitive.

"If we have to change the calendar to where we can't until the week around Labor Day, we'd really prefer that the legislator gives us a year notice."

A House committee passed the bill on Tuesday, but it will be weeks before it ever goes to a full vote in the House and Senate.