Bill extends availability of low-wage student labor

Friday, June 22, 2007 | 2:00 p.m. CDT; updated 12:29 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 10, 2008

Missouri tourism businesses looking to retain low-wage student labor longer in the summer got their wish Monday, said Otto Fajen, legislative director for Missouri National Education Association.

On Monday, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder signed Senate Bill 64 into law, which requires schools to open no sooner than 10 days before Labor Day. Kinder signed the bill as acting governor, while Gov. Matt Blunt is in France.

The idea is to make students available to work later in August.

The new law goes into effect seven days after Columbia schools are scheduled to start so it will not have an impact on the 2007 calendar.

“We will comply with the bill as part of our calender-making process,” said Lynn Barnett, assistant superintendent for Columbia Public Schools.

There is an exception to the rule, though. To start early, school districts must annually hold a public vote during school board meetings. Fajen thinks this may allow for more employee and public input into the decision.

“In most cases, school districts won’t change what they do,” Fajen said.

Supporters of the bill say seasonal student employment is an important part of the state’s tourism industry.

Columbia Public Schools is unsure at this point about what they are going to do. “We haven’t talked about it yet,” said Darin Preis, vice president of the district.

The bill also creates a new policy on classes missed due to inclement weather. An additional six days are required to be built into school schedules and used at the schools’ discretion. If schools exceed the additional days, they are required to make up half of the days missed. Under current law, schools are allowed to add up to eight additional days to the school schedule, but the days are not built into existing schedules. Rather, they are tacked on to the end of a school year. Time off for hot weather does not

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