You're seeing a slew of back-to-school pictures online right now as another school year gets underway. But according to Michigan law, public schools in our state are not technically permitted to start classes until after Labor Day. So what's up with that?

Michigan Law Mandates Late Start

In 2005, Michigan lawmakers passed a law requiring public and charter schools in our state to start their new school year after the Labor Day holiday.

The measure was meant to help boost tourism throughout the state by lessening families' obligations prior to the holiday in order to promote travel.

Small businesses in areas traditionally known as tourist towns benefit from the measure as well, as many employ teenage workers whose services are needed during peak business times.

Many School Districts Choose to Start Early

As of late, many schools districts in Michigan are choosing to begin classes prior to Labor Day. Michigan law makes it legal for schools to start early as long as they apply for, and are granted a waiver.

Last year, approximately 75% of Michigan's 517 public K through 12 districts opted to begin classes prior to the holiday weekend. That left just about 25% (roughly 127 districts) of Michigan's school population starting school after Labor Day.

School leaders tell Mlive that starting earlier makes it easier to get in 180 days of state-mandated instruction, thus ending the school year earlier.

A Push to Make it Permanent

Because so many districts are opting to obtain waivers in order to begin school before the holiday, legislation is being considered that would give school the autonomy to decide for themselves.

House Bill 4671, introduced in May of this year, take away the requirement for districts a apply for waivers, therefore eliminating a layer of administrative paperwork and freeing schools to regain complete control of their school calendars.

Don Wotruba, Executive Director of the Michigan Association of School Boards feels the impact of such a move would have a negligible effect on our state's tourism.

The bill has yet to be approved by the Michigan House and Senate.


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