AUSTIN, TX - Working with parents, local school boards, and school administrators, State Senator Van Taylor today filed SB 338, the School Calendar Choice Act. A priority issue for schools districts in Senate District 8, this legislation would repeal the uniform school start date allowing local school districts to control their academic calendar.
The current school start date requirement makes the academic year uneven, where the fall semester includes fewer instruction days than the spring semester. Local school districts have shared with Senator Taylor the challenges posed by this disparity as it relates to balancing course instruction. Taylor noted that filing the bill today, at the conclusion of the unbalanced fall semester, is symbolic to highlight the problem.
 “It is absurd that entrenched special interest groups have forced our local districts to deal with the challenges presented by unbalanced semesters," said Taylor. "Our children's education is far too important to be held hostage by petty political battles and third-party interests. After numerous meetings with local parents, school administrators, and school boards it is clear that allowing schools the flexibility to adjust their calendar is a commonsense solution that would yield meaningful results."
President of the Plano ISD Board of Trustees Missy Bender stated, “My fellow trustees and I are enthusiastic about opportunities to increase local control. Legislators, during the 84th legislature, provided new flexibilities through House Bill 1842 offering the opportunity to create a local District Innovation Plan. We saw great benefit in becoming a District of Innovation and being able to remove certain constraints, allowing us to be more flexible and creative in serving our students. I have a similar enthusiasm for the benefits school districts could realize with more choice and flexibility regarding our academic calendars.”
Wylie ISD Superintendent Dr. David Vinson stated, "Senator Taylor's practical approach to legislation is evident in filing the School Calendar Choice Act. As with any legislation he champions, you are guaranteed it has already been discussed by his constituents and has the best interest of our kids and families in mind. Wylie ISD spends many hours working on ways to fit the required number of instructional days into our calendar and Senator Taylor understands the flexibility and local control this gives our kids and families would be a game changer."
Current state law requires that the first day of instruction for public schools begin no earlier than the fourth Monday in August. This state mandate prohibits local school districts from developing their own school calendars and start dates. As introduced, the School Calendar Choice Act strikes this requirement allowing local school boards to decide on when to start instruction to better serve the needs of their constituencies. The legislation comes as a result of several meetings with schools and parents in the community.
Taylor continued, "I want to personally thank Plano ISD School Board President, Missy Bender, for bringing this important legislation to my attention and to all our local districts for actively engaging in the crafting of this legislation. Our schools are the crown jewels of our community and I am thankful for all the hard work our local boards dedicate to our children's education."
Taylor hosts regular conference calls with every school district in Senate District 8 to seek feedback on issues before the Legislature. As a member of the Education Committee, Taylor's office also distributes every bill heard in committee to school districts for questions or comment.
A seventh generation Texan, local small businessman, and decorated Marine Officer, Van Taylor serves the majority of Collin County and a portion of Dallas County in the Texas Senate where he is widely recognized as a conservative leader. Taylor serves as Vice-Chairman of both the Nominations Committee and the Sunset Advisory Commission. He is also as a member of the Education, Health and Human Services, and Transportation Committees as well as the interim Committee on Property Tax Reform and Relief. Van and his wife, Anne, married after his return from Iraq and are the proud parents of three young girls. Van and his family reside in Plano near the land his great-grandfather farmed during the Great Depression.