Does late start to school year put Wis. students at a disadvantage?

CREATED Sep 4, 2013

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MILWAUKEE - School is back in session in Wisconsin.  But students are combing the hallways two weeks after their counterparts in other states.

"Often (other schools across the country) are starting in mid-August," said Menomonee Falls Schools Superintendent Dr. Pat Greco told me.

The late start poses challenges for high school students in Advanced Placement classes, according to Greco.  Students and teachers have less time to prepare for AP tests on May 1.

"We usually start three weeks after some of the other districts in other states," she explained. 

Less prep time can hurt test scores.  The lower the score, the more a student may have to pay for college tuition.

"When families typically spend $23,000 for an in-state public school, every (dollar) can help," Greco said.

State law prevents schools from starting until after the first of September.  Supporters of the late start say the law allows families to enjoy one of the few nice months in Wisconsin.  Plus, it helps the tourism industry.

"July and August are the biggest tourism months," said Trisha Pugal, president of the Wisconsin Tourism Federation.  "Over half of those travelers are from Wisconsin.  So it does make a difference when the schools start."

Bills that would allow districts to start the school year earlier are circulating in Madison but Pugal believes the public isn't in favor of it.

"There was a survey done about four years ago," she explained.  "Over 70% of parents wanted school to start after Sept. 1."

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