The Ohio House of Representatives is considering a bill that would place restrictions on the start and end dates of public schools' academic calendars.

The Ohio House of Representatives is considering a bill that would place restrictions on the start and end dates of public schools' academic calendars.

House Bill 191 would enforce a minimum school year for school districts, STEM schools, and chartered nonpublic schools based on hours, rather than days, of instruction. The bill also would prohibit schools from being open for instruction prior to Labor Day or after Memorial Day except in specified circumstances, such as construction or renovation projects or making up hours from a previous school closure.

Schools could also be granted an exception if they met the yearly minimum hours by requiring attendance throughout the entire year, including the summer. Changes would be effective July 1.

Summer school programs could still operate.

"In the event that the legislation passes this time, it will provide schools with an opportunity to rethink how we manage the school day to ensure that our children are provided with the appropriate amount of instructional time to help them learn and move forward," South-Western City Schools Superintendent Bill Wise said.

Schools previously were required to be open for a minimum of 182 days. Under the proposed bill, schools would be open for a minimum of 480 hours for kindergarten; 960 hours for all-day kindergarten and grades one through six; and 1,050 hours for grades seven through 12.

Schools would have to approve any hourly reduction by approving a resolution adopted by the local school board.

The district currently operates with 178 student days and 185 teacher days, executive director of communications Sandy Nekoloff said.

Last school year, students began classes Aug. 25, 2010 and ended classes June 2, 2011. The district's 2012-2013 calendar has the same number of student and teacher days, beginning Aug. 22 and ending May 31.

"The major concern from the board perspective becomes local control, because this bill creates another bureaucratic mandate requiring additional paperwork. Studies on student learning would tend to support shorter break periods within the school calendar, rather than restricting when students go back to school in the summer (or) fall," Nekoloff said. "The concept of restricting the school year appears to go against what is in the best interests of students' educational success."

The bill also states any school board that entered into a collective bargaining agreement that established an opening date prior to Labor Day or after Memorial Day won't be required to comply with the new requirements until after the agreement expires.

"If we want to move schools to a later start date, then state testing dates would need to be moved to later in the spring to allow for more days to prepare students for the high stakes, state-required tests," said assistant superintendent of curriculum John Kellogg.