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Parents' Desire for Post-Labor Day School Start Sparks Debate in N.D.

Some North Dakota parents want to delay the school year's start until after Labor Day, and they've started a statewide campaign to put the issue on voters' ballots next year.

They say a later start would be better for families and students, but others disagree.

One of the reasons they want a post-Labor Day start involves school buildings. Some schools, especially in rural areas, don't have air conditioning, so a later start would prevent children from sitting in hot classrooms where they are "miserable" and "not focused," according to an article in the Grand Forks Herald.

Most North Dakota schools and districts are considered rural. The state ranks fourth nationally for its percentage (72.4) of rural schools, and it's No. 2 for its percentage of small rural districts (94 percent).

Those pushing for a later start would need 13,500 signatures to force a vote, and some are opposing their efforts. They say calendar decisions should be left to individual school districts.

Only three states— Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia—prevent schools from starting before Labor Day, and three others—Wisconsin, Iowa and North Carolina—have a start date of Sept. 1, according to the Minnesota School Board Association. That group has worked to repeal Minnesota's post-Labor Day start.

We recently wrote about the origins of the traditional nine-month school calendar. Although some believe it can be traced back to rural farming communities, experts say that's not true.

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