Kings Dominion case lengthens summer

March 17, 2011 • Xenia Kler, News Editor  
Filed under News

In 1986, representatives of Kings Dominion sat in during a Virginia General Assembly meeting in order to pass their legislation. They wanted schools to start after Labor Day in order to “lengthen” summer vacation which would be good for tourism based places and the local economy. The lobbying paid off and the legislation passed.

Pro-choice

On one side, delegates believe that Virginia school systems should have the authority to start whenever they want. For example, in Alexandria, Delegate Adam Ebbin proposed House Bill 1111, which allowed schools with high rates of poverty to be exempted from the Labor Day restriction.

“They need the maximum instruction time in order to reach their potential, and this bill allows for that,” Ebbin said in an interview with the Alexandria Gazette Packet.

Pro- Kings Dominion

The other side consists of King’s Dominion marketing manager John Pagel. He says that King’s Dominion will be opposing the bill when it comes before a House education panel.

For the amusement park, the problem with Ebbin’s legislation is that it decreases tourism dollars during the critical summer months, when tourism money peaks.

“This bill hinders tourism,” said Pagel. “We support the traditional calendar, which is a revenue generator for the state.

Delegate Bob Tata proposed a compromise bill that would have let school start before Labor Day if the holiday didn’t fall on or before September 5. The bill was withdrawn once he realized that Governor Bob McDonnell didn’t support it, as stated in the Virginia Pilot Newspaper.

Many educators believe starting earlier will increase the time in the classroom before SOL and AP testing. Also, some disagree with the King’s Dominion law because it pushes school further into June, especially when extended because of snow days.

“Last year we basically had two weeks off for snow,” senior Zack Kretlow said. “When we got back, we had so much catching up to do in AP US History that we basically rushed through three chapters and had a test right away when we got back.”

Loudoun County

Rural counties in Virginia have now received an exemption to this policy because of the amount of snow days they receive; 58 out of the state’s 132 counties start school before Labor Day at this moment.

Next year, Loudoun County will be added to the list. The Loudoun County Public School Board has unanimously agreed to the pre-Labor Day school calendar for the 2011-12 school year.

With the two snow storms that have occurred in the past two years, Loudoun County now qualifies for the weather waiver from the Labor Day law.

“The earlier starting time would allow school to close on June 8, 2012, eight days earlier than this school year,” stated on the LCPS website.  “It is the feeling of LCPS staff that the earlier start date will lead to a more meaningful educational experience for its students.”

Although this shortens the 2011 summer by five days, it allows school to end on June 8, 2012, eight days earlier than the current year and only one day after this year‘s seniors get out, which seems like a fair deal to many students.

“I like this better, I usually forget things by August anyway,” freshman Drew Passante said. “Getting out in early June is better, plus it’s a longer summer.”

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