School Calendar Action Information

Passed during the 2017 legislative session, the School Calendar Bill, SB 50, takes effect in June 2017 and is first applicable to the 2018-19 school year. Because SB 50 left the school calendar decision-making at the local level, any positive effect it has on bringing about later school openings will be district-by-district and will require the active engagement by the local tourism industry.  Below is a summary of the bill followed by suggested actions.

Bill Summary

  • SB 50 allows school districts the option of using a “variable student instructional year,” requiring the same hours of instruction required by existing law, but allowing for fewer school days than the minimum of 170 days required by existing law.
  • The “variable student instructional year” option is an incentive for later school opening because a district cannot use that option unless its first day of instruction is on or after the Monday closest to August 26.
  • SB 50 calls for the school board to annually convene a school district calendar committee to provide school calendar recommendations to the superintendent.
  • SB 50 states that the committee shall include “two (2) community members from the local chamber of commerce, business community or tourism commission.”
  • The superintendent must present the committee’s recommendations to the school board during a public meeting of the school board.

Local Action Needed

The two most important actions to give tourism a voice it has not previously had regarding when schools open are: (1) the establishment of the school district calendar committee and (2) ensuring the inclusion of at least one tourism person on the committee. The following are a few advisory points about both actions: 

  • The tourism director should educate the local industry about SB 50, and as developments occur, communicate to the industry the school district’s calendar committee plans as they become known, and update the industry on the committee’s work once it is underway. 
  • Establishing the committee by the school board is done upon recommendation of the superintendent. The local tourism director in coordination with the local industry should contact the superintendent to encourage formation of the committee, inquire about plans to do so, and ask to be named to the committee or recommend an appropriate tourism businessperson to serve. 
  • Depending on local conditions, it may be beneficial for the tourism director to coordinate with the Chamber of Commerce in contacting the superintendant and in encouraging the inclusion of a tourism person on the committee.
  • Once the committee is functioning, the tourism representative(s) should be well armed with information about the positive impact of a later opening date for students and families, businesses and the local economy, inclusive of tourism.  See below for helpful information.

Information for School Calendar Committee Tourism Representatives

  • In 2016 KTIA and the Kentucky Marina Association commissioned research that documented the economic impact of schools opening in early August. (Click here for a copy of the research.) The following are key findings in the comparison of July, when tourism is at its peak, and the huge decline that occurs in August. (2014 was the year used for the comparison):
    • $432 million in lost expenditures
    • 6,000 jobs lost
    • $97 million in lost wages
    • $45 million in lost state and local tax revenue

It is extremely important that these points be illustrated with actual local examples.

  • In addition to the loss of jobs by businesses, young workers most acutely feel the impact of job loss. The early start of schools curtails their income, with many working to have money for college, and reduces the “learn and earn” value resulting from a job.
  • Early school starts require families to make childcare and other adjustments earlier than necessary. It also curtails families’ opportunity to travel together and to do other family activities.
  • A later start date can potentially save the district money with reduced cooling costs during the hottest time of the year. 
  • Be sure there is adequate focus and attention on the “variable student instructional year” option that is only available to districts with the first day of instruction on or after the Monday closest to August 26. 


Contact Hank Phillips at KTIA to report progress and with any questions or issues.