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Va. Educators Renew Fight to Start School Before Labor Day

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The King's Dominion Law could face tougher opposition in Virginia's 2012 General Assembly.

Northern Virginia educators are getting ready to renew their fight to get rid of the so-called King’s Dominion Law as the 2012 General Assembly session begins this week.

The law states that Virginia school districts must begin their school term after Labor Day, but it seems there is growing momentum for a change. The law, which has been on the books since 1986, is named for the King's Dominion amusement park and is supported by the entire tourism industry, which says the later school start keeps teen workers on the job and keeps the vacation crowds coming.

School districts want the freedom to set their own calendar. They've tried and failed year after year to make a change, but this session could be different, as state Sen. Adam Ebbin will sponsor one of the bills to give school districts the ability to set their own calendars.

Educators say the post Labor Day start puts Virginia high school students at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to preparation for national AP and IB exams, which are set on a national calendar. On top of that, 77 of the commonwealth’s 132 school districts -- most in snowy part of the state -- have weather waivers permitting them bypass the law, creating an uneven playing field even within Virginia.

Virginia’s Hospitality and Travel Association is pushing hard to keep the law in place, arguing that an earlier school start could mean almost $300 million in lost tourism revenues and $100 million in lost wages.

Educators say momentum for a change seems to suddenly have shifted their way. Gov. Bob McDonnell has endorsed a repeal of the law as part of his education package.

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