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Missouri education bill aims to standardize school calendars across state

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An education bill in the Missouri legislature aims to standardize school calendars across the state to a set period between Sept. 1 through May 31st.
Some local superintendents argue not every district fits that time frame.
"It's all about local control and if we have the flexibility of when to start school based on the needs of our district at that time," said Superintendent CJ Huff of Joplin Schools.
Huff says the needs of a district like Branson with a strong tourism industry differ from that of Joplin.
"We have a lot of construction going on and we're trying to put a school calendar and start time together that matches the construction schedule to give ourselves enough time to get moved into the new high school in August," he said.  "It's important to us."
Supporters of the measure say children would have a more equal chance if all schools had an equal calendar.
"I think it's a good idea," said Joplin resident Michelle Brant.  "That way everybody would be on the same track."
"I don't really have an opinion on it one way or the other, but it would be nice to have a standardized calendar," Joplin resident Frank Reiter said.  "It makes it easier for summer planning."
The proposal also requires mandatory summer schooling for students who do not pass their standardized tests.
"If they didn't pass in the regular school year, they should definitely have to go to summer school so they can get up to par for the next grade or be held back," parent Michelle Horton said.
Some school districts are concerned about how the standardized calendar would impact making up snow days.
"With the different regions and climates, I think snow days need to be accounted for," Horton said.
"For us, we missed 10 days of school this year.  There are other districts that missed maybe 5 days, others have missed maybe 13," Huff said.  "How do you make that right within the calendar?"
The proposal also aims to set aside August for teacher training.
The bill has yet to be heard on the floor.
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