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New bill could change school calendar, start year earlier

A new bill in the Wisconsin state legislature could make the school year longer for some schools. State Representative Jim Ott plans to propose a bill letting some schools start before September 1.

There are significant arguments against this legislation. Certainly from students who want more time off - but also the wisconsin tourism industry. Tourism groups argue starting school earlier in the year - in August - would hurt the industry. They cite statistics about the millions of dollars spent through the summer - including the Labor Day weekend.

But Ott says this is not aimed to hurt the industry. His initial proposal would include schools where about 20% of students participate in AP classes. He says that's about 32 districts in Wisconsin. It's a small starting point. He says it's not a mandate either - but gives control back to the district. He also says many kids are back and ready in August for extra-curricular activities.

\"You've got a lot of kids already back on campus by the middle of August for football, or band, or cross country,\" Ott said. \"very few schools districts where nobody's there before September 1. A lot of the students already are on campus. Again, we wouldn't be mandating it we'd simply be giving the school boards the authority to make that decision.\"

The Brown Deer School District supports the flexibility.

\"We believe that learning should never be bound by a 10 month calendar,\" Brown Deer Superintendent Dr. Deborah Kerr said. \"Learning happens any time, any place, with our students. To better serve the diverse needs of all of our kids who walk through our door who we have to serve we feel we need expanded learning times to do that.\"

Ott will propose the bill in the Wisconsin Assembly.

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