The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

March 2, 2014

Government shadow removed from local school calendars

By Budd McLaughlin

— The sun is setting on the calendar used by public schools for the last two years.

And a fall break may be back.

“We’ve taken the temporary measure out of the original bill and let local boards of education decide on their own calendars,” said state Rep. Dan Williams of House Bill 454 that passed last week.

In 2012, the Legislature — at the behest of officials on the Gulf Coast — passed the Calendar Act of 2012, which required each local school board to set a calendar that started school no earlier than two weeks before Labor Day and ended no later than the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend.

The idea was that a longer summer would prove to be a boon with more revenue from tourism. 

However, there has not been any data to back that and there was no opposition to letting the “sun set” on the law.

“No one really spoke out against it,” Williams said.

Athens State bill passes

But there was some opposition to a bill that would allow the president of Athens State University to be a member of the state’s council of presidents, representing four-year colleges and universities. Previously, Athens State was under the direction of the Alabama Council on Higher Education, which oversees two-year colleges.

Athens State is a two-year upper level college as opposed to the two-year junior and community colleges.

“The bill cleaned up language regarding two-year and four-year colleges in reference to Athens State,” Williams said. “We had trouble getting it through, but after explaining what the bill would do, it was passed.”

The bill now goes to the Senate where it will be carried by Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, and Sen. Bill Holtzclaw, R-Madison.