“Since the first day of the session we have been working on the issue of the school start date,” Representative Greg Forristall, a Republican from Macadonia, said. “We’ve had discussions over the last couple of months with the senate, with members of the various house, with the governor’s office and I believe we have finally reached an acceptable compromise.”
Iowa schools do not know yet when school may be allowed to start this fall. In December, Governor Terry Branstad’s education department announced districts would no longer get waivers to start before the week in which Labor Day falls. Forristall said setting “on or after August 23” as the new rule for starting school is something the governor will accept.
“Sometimes you have to take what you can get,” Forristall said. “…This is one of those cases.”
The bill passed on a 71 to 29 vote. Representative Scott Ourth, a Democrat from Ackworth, was among those who voted for the bill.
“People say that politics is the art of the possible,” Ourth said. “And in the spirit of bipartisanship, which I think the people of Iowa expect of us, I find today to be a rather happy day.”
Representative Art Staid, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, opposed the bill, arguing local school officials should be making the start date decision.
‘Whatever happened to the local control principle?” Staid asked. “What ever happened to the limited government principle, where we do not harm?”
Earlier this month, the Iowa Senate voted to allow school boards to continue to decide when classes start in the fall. Last fall, 67 Iowa school districts began classes during the second week of August. Bettendorf and Danville started earliest — on August 11. Only 14 districts started after August 23 last fall.