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Early school start OK'd

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ST. PAUL -- A House Committee gave its blessing to allowing school districts to begin classes before Labor Day for the next two years.

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On a 14-5 vote, the House K-12 Education Finance Committee approved the bill, which has other committee stops before reaching a full House vote.

The bill would apply for the next two years because Labor Day falls late those two years. It is on Sept. 7 this year.

But those in resort areas fought the measure.

"We just can't handle any more hits," Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township, said of the tourism community. "All of my counties are at double-digit unemployment."

But bill sponsor Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester, said the proposal allows schools to start when they want, so districts in tourism areas still may opt to start after Labor Day.

Minnesota, Virginia and Michigan are the only states that ban schools from beginning before Labor Day.

Joel Carlson, representing small resorts, said the bill would bring "significant consequences for resorters and others" and not provide additional educational opportunities.

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