A state senator who has long sought to delay the start of school in Iowa until after Labor Day will try one last time to accomplish that goal. Senator John Putney, a Republican from Gladbrook, does not plan to seek re-election in November of 2008, but when lawmakers reconvene in January, he will again propose changing the rules so schools aren’t starting in August.
"Pretty impractical when we go to school and then we let ’em out in three or four hours because of the heat," Putney says. Current state law stipulates that schools are to start after Labor Day, but there is a waiver process and Putney points out none of the districts who ask for the waiver so they can start in August are denied. "You know, the waiver has become — really — the law," Putney says.
Only a handfull of Iowa schools do not start until after Labor Day. Putney is the lead fundraiser for the Iowa State Fair and he argues the fair and other tourism sites in Iowa are harmed, economically, when families have to shelve vacation plans in August because school is starting. "I think it’s just a shame that when we have such a short tourism season in Iowa that we deprive our families from enjoying the activities that we have to offer," Putney says.
In addition, Putney says starting school in August doesn’t make much sense in a state where August temperatures can reach into the 90s or even triple digits. "Students aren’t absorbing much during the hot weather and the teachers are probably are uncomfortable, so there’s probably not much very progress made in terms of their education," Putney says.
Putney was elected to the Iowa Senate in 2002. He announced this morning he will not seek re-election in 2008.