Classes before Labor Day likely in Va.’s largest school district

Hank Silverberg,

FALLS CHURCH, Va. – Fairfax County will likely open schools in August if the so called “Kings Dominion law” is eliminated.

For years, county leaders have asked the law — which prohibits schools from opening before Labor Day — be eliminated because it puts their students at a disadvantage on national tests.

Gov. Bob McDonnell has now backed the repeal of the law and has asked the General Assembly to move on it in the session that began Wednesday.

Fairfax County Superintendent Jack Dale says repealing the law would be a big bonus for students in his district, which is the largest in Virginia.

“What it would do is allow us to give them more instructional time before the testing,” he says.

Standardized tests are given across the country in May. Dale says the one or two week difference in starting classes would make a difference.

A change, however, won’t happen until the 2013 school year, at the earliest, because the calendar for next year is already set.

Fairfax County School Board Chairman Janie Strauss says before the change is made, she would set up a task force with both parents and students to review options.

“So that we all can come to the table and say, ‘We have flexibility, what is the best for our students?'” she says.

Dale made his comments after briefing reporters about the budget he will propose to the school board on Thursday night.

McDonnell has also proposed eliminating teacher tenure as part of his education reform package, which would mean teacher contracts would be renewed annually. McDonnell has said it would provide more accountability.

Dale disagrees. He says teachers are under constant review already and any teacher not meeting standards can be weeded out quickly.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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