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Governor will try again to reign in early school start dates

(Radio Iowa) – Governor Terry Branstad is regrouping and hopes to come up with a new alternative that would prevent Iowa school districts from starting early in mid-August.

“It is an important issue to a lot of Iowans and I do want to see it resolved and I want to see it resolved in a reasonable way, and I think we’re going to continue to reach out to people that have concerns about it to see what is the best and most appropriate way to deal with it,” Branstad says.

Last week the Iowa Board of Education voted down rules that would have made it tougher for schools to get a state waiver to start school in mid-August.

“I’m disappointed that the board decided that they didn’t want to take on this issue,” Branstad says.

State law stipulates that schools are not to start before the week in which September 1st falls, but under present practice all districts that apply for a waiver to start in August get one. Iowa’s tourism industry has been a critic, saying they lose millions because families stop traveling in August, plus many of their teenage employee leave because school is resuming. Branstad vows to meet with parents, teachers, school administrators and others to come up with another plan to address the controversy.

“It’s not going to go away and I think we need to try and come up with a reasonable and fair compromise in trying to deal with this,” Branstad says.

Branstad suggests he may make a recommendation to legislators to pass a law on the issue in 2014. The Iowa House and Senate have passed bills in the past to restrict early starts for schools, but a bill on the issue has never cleared both the House and Senate in the same year and in the same form.

Branstad discussed the issue at the end of his weekly news conference.