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Should Va. Schools Open Before Labor Day?

Opening day and teacher merit pay under discussion

Friday, Sep 23, 2011  |  Updated 8:43 PM EDT
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Should Va. Schools Open Before Labor Day?

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Two topics important to northern Virginia were under discussion at Thursday's State Board of Education meeting in Richmond: The first day of school and teacher merit pay.

Board member Rob Krupicka said the state should consider doing away with the law that requires schools to open after Labor Day unless they're granted a waiver.

Krupicka said the majority of districts already qualify for such waivers largely because they can be granted for severe weather and other emergencies.

The state's tourism businesses back the current law because it keeps teenagers available to work and allows families to visit attractions in the final days before Labor Day.

"The law has become ridiculous how it's been administered," Krupicka said. "It's becoming a debate we're having on a regular basis, but we need to move forward and focus on getting kids
to succeed."

Meanwhile, Gov. Bob McDonnell said improving public education will be a priority during this legislative session but money will be tight.

The governor called on the board to ensure that schools continue to raise the rigor of coursework and hold students to higher standards so they can compete with their counterparts worldwide.

On teacher merit pay programs, McDonnell encouraged the board to continue to examine new
pilot programs to see if such a plan can apply statewide. He acknowledged that some pilot performance-pay systems haven't worked but said "it's something that works exceptionally
well in the private sector" and that it's essential to recruit excellent teachers and recognize them when they do a good job.

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