JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A later summer will be a boon to Missouri's vacation industry, thanks to a bill passed at the end of Missouri's 2019 legislative session this week. House Bill 604 is headed to the governor's desk.
The idea was praised by many in the tourism industry, but left others with concerns, saying the start date of a local school district should be decided on a local level.
Specifically, the bill prohibits local school districts in Missouri from setting an opening date for the school term that is more than 14 calendar days prior to the first Monday in September.
Supporters included tourism officials and groups representing tourism-related businesses such as amusement park operators, hotel and campground owners and river outfitters.
According to Rep. Jeff Knight (R-Lebanon), who sponsored similar legislation, most Missouri school districts were starting on or about Aug. 13. With this new law, the three-or-four-day later start date may add an extra weekend to the tourism calendar for many Missouri families. “People from the Lake of the Ozarks should understand the considerable amount of revenue lodging alone generates in one weekend,” he said.
Opponents of the change included the Missouri National Education Association, the Missouri State Teachers Association and the School Administrators Coalition. They say the ability to start earlier allows schools to hold classes in June to make up for snow days, give final exams before winter break and gives additional time before standardized tests in the spring.
The new law will not affect Lake of the Ozarks area school start dates, as the School of the Osage, Morgan County R-II and the Camdenton R-III School Districts have historically started two weeks before Labor Day and will continue to start two weeks before Labor Day.