By Matthew Burns

Raleigh, N.C. — Despite criticism from a coastal lawmaker, a proposal to study the effect on student performance of moving up the start date of the school year in 20 North Carolina counties is moving forward in the House.

School calendars have been an annual battlefield in the General Assembly for more than a decade, when the grassroots Save Our Summers group successfully lobbied to etch the start and end dates to school years into state law. Now, traditional-calendar schools cannot start classes before “the Monday closest to Aug. 26” and must end by the second week of June.

Since then, the tourism industry has beaten back any effort to change the calendar law. That hasn’t stopped lawmakers from trying to get around those restrictions for their local school districts, however. Dozens of so-called “calendar flexibility” bills are filed every year, but other than those in response to severe weather that shuts schools for extended periods, few ever pass.

Rep. Harry Warren, R-Rowan, said 39 flexibility bills have been filed in the House and another 13 in Senate so far this year, covering 69 of the state’s 100 counties. Instead of debating exceptions to the rule, he wants a study to determine if the rule is broken and needs to be scrapped.

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