FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 28, 2001
AUSTIN, TX--State Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, was recently recognized for his support and dedication to the San Antonio Tourism Industry at a luncheon hosted by the Greater San Antonio Hotel and Motel Association.
Several legislators from both the Senate and the House of Representatives were honored for supporting or carrying legislation benefitting travel and tourism in Texas. One of the highlights of the event was Senate Bill 108 by Sen. Lucio, the legislation requiring public schools to begin classes no earlier than the week in which August 21 falls.
"The San Antonio business community is very pleased with the support received from Sen. Lucio on various legislative issues, especially with the School Calendar Bill that recently was signed by Governor Perry," said Mr. Marco A. Barros, executive director for the San Antonio Area Tourism Council.
Mr. Barros went on to say that Sen. Lucio "has worked very hard for several years to protect family issues such as this one. This new state law helps both families and teachers in many ways. It allows migrant families to start school at the same time and allows teachers to attend both summer sessions to move up the career ladder."
"Sen. Lucio's latest award for his leadership on the school calendar issue is well deserved. As chair of the legislative affairs committee of the Texas Travel Industry Association, I also had the honor of presenting the Senator with our Silver Spurs Award, reflecting our appreciation for his unwavering and visionary commitment to Texas's third largest industry, tourism.," said Mr. David Dunham, senior vice president of development for Texas Monthly magazine.
Mr. Dunham went on to say that "although Senate Bill 108 will provide a tremendous benefit to tourism, we're also aware that the Senator's primary motivation was to assist the migrant farm workers in Texas. The award was a symbol of our highest regard for the Senator from Brownsville with the tenacity of a bulldog and a heart as big as Texas."
One of Sen. Lucio's chief concerns with this legislation is that school districts with high migrant populations put the children's interests first when they set their start dates. He said that although they can begin class even earlier than the week in which August 21 falls by following certain procedures in obtaining a waiver, they should do so only if it's in the best interest of the students.
"This legislation could mean the difference between dropping out and staying in school for many migrant students," said Sen. Lucio. "Migrant students, who are no longer concentrated just along the Border, face so many hurdles in trying to obtain an education. When they return late in the fall from working up north with their families, they face the burden of making up days and even weeks of classroom instruction. SB 108 should greatly assist in that respect by moving the start date to a later time.
"And this admonition goes not just for schools with high migrant populations, but for every school district in Texas," Sen. Lucio added. "No school calendar should be set without making the welfare of every student the priority when deciding the start date."
Sen. Lucio studied every issue imaginable since 1997 when the idea of a later and more uniform start date was first brought to him by a group of his constituents. Mr. Barros said that he appreciates "all those long hours of research and work on this important issue."
Crediting the Senator for his dedication and commitment to teachers and families during the last six years, Ms. Tina Bruno, executive director of Texans for a Traditional School Year (15,000 members) noted, "Our parents were very impressed during the session at Sen. Lucio's willingness to listen to all points of view and bring everyone's needs and desires into one comprehensive and very fair bill. He truly understood that parents were looking for a voice in the calendar process."
Mr. Barros added, "Senator Lucio again has demonstrated his care and concern for the communities he serves by researching and providing good information on state issues. Our community in San Antonio will also benefit financially by collecting an additional sales tax from visitors who will stay longer in San Antonio. These funds are needed in the City of San Antonio budget as we forecast a shortfall in our local budget."
The bill exempts all schools operating as year round for 2000-2001 and would apply to the 2002-2003 school year. A school district wishing to start school earlier than the week in which August 21 falls, must post a notice in the local paper of the intended start date at least 60 days before submitting a waiver. It must then hold a public hearing on the date and submit input from the meeting to the Texas Education Agency as part of the waiver request.
Sen. Lucio has asked Gov. Perry to officiate at a ceremonial bill signing for SB 108 later this summer.