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Manassas Park Charter Admendment Fails in House, Senate

The charter amendment would have made it possible for the city's school division to set its own schedule, allowing for the start of school before Labor Day.

An amendment to Manassas Park's city charter that would have been a work around a law that prevents classes from starting before Labor Day, failed to pass in the Virginia House of Delegates and the Senate.

Senate Bill 1245 came up four votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed to clear the Virginia Senate on Tuesday, school officials said.

The bill was introduced by Manassas Park and Manassas Sen. Charles J. Colgan-D.

If passed, the bill would have amended and reenacted 5.6 of Chapter 912 of the Acts of Assembly of 1993, which provided a charter for the Manassas Park related to its schools, meaning the schools would have been allowed to set their on class schedules. 

An identical bill was introduced in the House of Delegates this year by Del. Bob Marshall of Manassas Park, but it too failed.

The bill also failed last year.

School officials said they appreciate the efforts by Marshall and Colgan.

While the bill failed to pass during the 2012 legislative session, school officials told Manassas Park City Council in December that they were hopeful about it passing this year.

The district’s small size, the proportion of at-risk students who receive free or low-priced lunch, the number who receive English language instruction and the need for more instruction time to prepare for the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) tests, could motivate lawmakers to change the charter, school officials said.

School officials in neighboring Manassas have also expressed a desire to see their schools start before Labor Day and made that clear to Colgan and De.l Jackson Miller during a meeting about legislative priorities in December.

The repeal of the so-called Kings Dominion law has been constantly debated over the years. The tourism industry says the law prevents amusement parks and other recreational venues from losing their workforce before Labor Day, while educators see it as a hindrance for education.

What do you think? Should classes start before Labor Day in Manassas Park? Tell us now in the comments.

Shawn February 06, 2013 at 11:21 AM
I am very disappointed in this bill not passing. Maybe next time we can send down some students from around the area to talk to the Virginia House of Delegates and the Senate about changing their minds. If Virginia wants to be a leader of highly educated workforce it is time to put up or shut up.
MP Resident 09 February 06, 2013 at 01:08 PM
Nice tactic. Coach your kid on why you want them to go to school before labor day and then send them down there to deliver your message? Real mature. I can't say I know the reasons, so can someone please explain to me why starting school in after labor day is such a hindrance to education?
Liberty February 07, 2013 at 12:26 AM
Starting schools before Labor Day would allow for more instructional time with students before the SOL tests in May.
Jamie M. Rogers (Editor) February 07, 2013 at 02:33 AM
Mises, educators and schools are heavily judged by SOL scores. Like Liberty said, the thinking is that if they have more time to prepare for Standards of Learning tests then the better the children will do.
Rachel February 07, 2013 at 01:58 PM
It's not just SOLs. Students taking AP courses are put at a competitive disadvantage with students in other states that begin the year earlier and have more time to cover the material before national testing dates. Certainly students preparing to take the SATs would benefit from more time as well. There are all sorts of reasons that a community should be able to determine its school calendar. It's a shame that the tourism lobby is so powerful in Virginia that it precludes localities making decisions that make sense for themselves. As for the advocacy piece, if a child believes in something and wants to speak out, it's up to him. Recently, my nine year old spoke at the town hall meeting about community based services for people with disabilities - his brother is developmentally disabled. I explained the issues, gave him some of the terminology and in his own hand and words, he wrote a beautiful testimony that he gave before Delegates Marshall and Miller and Senator Colgan and other members of the Northern Virginia delegation. I spoke as well. It was less a tactic and more a life skill that he needs to develop going forward as he helps care for his brother and speaks up for him. He received many compliments for his poise and I couldn't be more proud!
Shawn February 07, 2013 at 02:19 PM
Thank you Liberty, Jamie M. Rogers, and Rachel
MP Resident 09 February 07, 2013 at 02:57 PM
Don't get me wrong, I don't believe in some arbitrary date dictating when a child can begin to learn. The thing that I find disturbing is the idea that schools are the only ones able to teach kids, as if they had a monopoly on it. If it is so important, why not work with your children beforehand? Or are the subjects and content a secret and kept under lock and key? I guess the idea of home schooling is extinct.
Shawn February 07, 2013 at 03:27 PM
I guess the idea of home schooling is extinct. People do home school, but you have to be willing to work at it.
MP Resident 09 February 07, 2013 at 07:21 PM
I'm not sure what that means or what kind of substance it adds to the conversation. Are you saying that everyone should start earlier since parents are unwilling to be involved in educating their child at home?

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