Who is the king/queen of school start dates? Who decides if we start before Labor Day? It is the time of year I get constituent emails asking when school will start in August. Or is it September?! Schools around the country are wrestling with when to set school start dates. Many are starting much earlier than Albemarle.
The king is Kings Dominion (the amusement park). The queen is Mother Nature. I think they both live in Richmond at the General Assembly. I am not making this up... Virginia has what we call the "Kings Dominion Law" named after the theme park outside Richmond, which requires schools to start AFTER Labor Day (the thinking is that way theme parks will not lose their workforce).
Each year Albemarle County has to pray for snow from Mother Nature and hope the King in Richmond will grant us a waiver to start school in August. If we get enough snow days (averaged over a number of years), we are eligible for a waiver from this law. During the past decade, I don't believe we have ever started after Labor Day because Albemarle has always successfully gotten a waiver.
There was a recent attempt (which failed) to kill the law by the General Assembly. An article in the Hampton Roads Daily Press reported:
"A law enacted nearly 20 years ago requires schools to open after Labor Day unless they get a waiver from the board. The statute was informally called the "Kings Dominion law" because it was championed by summertime tourist attractions that rely on teenage workers through Labor Day. According to the state Department of Education, 79 of the state's 132 school divisions had permission to start this academic year earlier, mostly to compensate for days missed because of bad weather."
This year, because we have not had enough snow days, staff are preparing two calendar drafts. One that has us starting before Labor Day and one after. If we don't get another couple days of snow, we may be forced to comply with Virginia law and start after Labor Day. I can tell you the Wheeler Family is not making any vacation plans past August 20th.