FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 3, 2005
AUSTIN, TX--Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., today commended House Speaker Tom Craddick for adding a provision in the public education and public school finance bill stating that public schools cannot begin classes before the first Tuesday after Labor Day. Sen. Lucio has championed that effort legislatively for the past several years.
"This is a very wise financial and academic decision on the part of the Speaker," said Sen. Lucio. "The $790 million in annual costs for school operations and utilities, loss of migrant income, additional child care for parents and teachers, and diminished tourism could be recovered. Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn has worked laboriously to identify these potential savings areas if the start date is later and the school year more condensed.
"We can use this money to fund public education and not throw it out the window," quipped Sen. Lucio.
Sen. Lucio again stressed one of the major reasons he continues to work for a later school start date is that migrant children, who return home days or weeks after school starts because they're up north working with their families, face additional challenges by missing so many days of class.
He added, "I will encourage my colleagues in the House and Senate to support what the Speaker has included in House Bill 2, the public education and finance bill, to give our migrant students a more equal footing with other students in the classroom and to lessen the risk of dropping out."
Sen. Lucio also reiterated that additional time for family vacations has always been another of his priorities in trying to implement a later start date. He said that many teenagers and young college students need the summer to work jobs--usually full-time--to fund their education and help out at home. During school time, it is more difficult to work a 40-hour job.
Additionally, summer vacation spots like Schlitterbahn (in New Braunfels and South Padre Island), Six Flags Over Texas, Astroworld, Fiesta, Sea World and South Padre Island, can continue to offer jobs for longer periods both to students and to non-students. Allowing these venues to open longer in the summer spurs local and state economies, especially because they attract visitors who also spend money at restaurants, hotels and motels, and other businesses in the vicinity.
"This decision on the part of the Speaker regarding the school start date indicates he is committed to doing what's best for public education," said Sen. Lucio, "Quite frankly, many parents don't want their children to go to school in the summertime, and studies showing that a quarter of a million students aren't in the classroom the first weeks of school.