Iowa school officials are pushing back against an effort to delay the first day of school.

Most Iowa school districts get a waiver to start school before September 1, but Governor Branstad on Monday threatened to stop his Department of Education from granting those waivers if a bill on the topic fails to clear the legislature. 

“We believe that would be a mistake,” says Tom Narak, government relations director for the School Administrators of Iowa. “Outstanding schools are the best economic tool we have in our state, that draws people to our state. They spend money here. They live here and we think that we need to do all we can to improve our schools.”

A bill that would forbid schools from starting before the 4th Monday in August is gathering steam in the legislature and is ready for debate in the House. With schools starting earlier and earlier in August, the tourism industry complains it loses customers as families stop traveling and teenagers quit their summer jobs at the swimming pool, resort or ice cream shop as they start practicing for fall sports. Narak, speaking for school administrators, suggests schools could start early in August, then break for Labor Day, to accommodate the tourism industry.

“Maybe the week before Labor Day not have school on Thursday and Friday, so you have Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday where people can take those late trips,” Narak suggests, “and not have the conflict that we’re having now.”

Narak made his comments Monday on Iowa Public Radio’s “River to River” program.

Governor Terry Branstad said forcing schools to start after September 1st is something he’s “seriously” considering.

“There are many other states, including our neighbors to the north — Minnesota and Wisconsin — that don’t permit that,” Branstad said.

On Monday morning Branstad said if the legislature “fails to act” to limit early school starts, he may order his Department of Education to quit granting waivers and start enforcing state law which stipulates that schools are to start no earlier than the week in which September 1st falls.