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Sen. Gooch, committee looking to potentially push school start until after Labor Day
Steve Gooch
Steve Gooch.

Sen. Steve Gooch, R – Dahlonega, was recently appointed by Lt. Governor Casey Cagle to serve as chair of the Senate Study Committee on Evaluating the School Year Calendar of Georgia Public Schools, according to a press release. 

“As we celebrate Labor Day each year as the unofficial end of summer, most of our public schools have been back in full swing for nearly a month,” Gooch said. “Additionally, August is typically the hottest time of year when energy bills reach their peak and student athletes’ safety is a big concern. I believe that for these reasons and others, it is a good time to take a look at how we compare to other states who still utilize a more traditional school calendar with their start dates after Labor Day."

Gooch said the committee looks forward to hearing from all key stakeholders on how this shift would impact Georgia public schools, students, parents and the tourism industry. The goal is to determine if a later start date is feasible and if it would provide additional opportunities for families to take a vacation together while increasing the availability of summer workers for Georgia's booming travel and hospitality industries. 

"We will review these possibilities while also ensuring that there will be no disruption to the education of our children," Gooch said. 

“Sen. Gooch’s leadership has helped guide north Georgia - and our entire state - to achieve record job growth and economic prosperity," said Lt. Governor Cagle. "I’m confident this study committee will diligently evaluate how local districts across our state can best align each system's school calendar with their community’s unique needs, while ensuring that every student has access to a world-class education.” 

Gooch has set up a poll on his Facebook page where anyone can voice their opinion of delaying or maintaining the school start date. 

Kelsey Moore, Executive Director of the Georgia Travel Association, said the GATA "supports the establishment of sensible guidelines to create a more uniform school start date that benefits parents, students, and the many locally-owned businesses that depend on the tourism industry to help drive Georgia’s economy."

"These summer experiences, internships and job opportunities are critical components in the state’s efforts around workforce development," Moore said. "We look forward to working with this committee to take a comprehensive look at an issue that has a significant impact on our students, families and communities.”

The Senate Study Committee on Evaluating the School Year Calendar of Georgia Public Schools was created by the passage of Senate Resolution 1068 during the 2018 legislative session. As stated in the resolution, 11 members will serve on the committee including the chairman of the Senate Economic Development and Tourism, Education and Youth and Appropriations Committees. 

The committee will review the effect of varied school start dates on the travel and hospitality industries. The committee must report its findings on or before Dec. 1, 2018.