By Illinois Radio Network
SPRINGFIELD – One percent of Illinois’ public schools started their 2019-2020 years after Labor Day.
In Illinois and a number of other states, there is no state mandate on when public schools start in the fall.
In a report submitted to state lawmakers, the Illinois State Board of Education examined the day that the state’s public schools commenced. It found that six school districts, about one percent of Illinois’ 852 districts, started their school year after Labor Day.
Labor Day had traditionally served as a bookend of summer for students before they went back to class, but the proliferation of air conditioning has allowed for earlier starts.
“When I went to school, there was no air conditioning,” said state Rep. Mike Murphy, the Springfield Republican who passed the resolution calling for the report.
He said starting in August also allows for symmetrical semesters that hinge on a Christmas break.
Murphy said that his district has a number of attractions that have struggled because students are already back in school when they happen.
“We have a lot of tourism in Sangamon County, including the State Fair that starts in August,” he said. “Those are the types of events that have been hurt by the early start dates.”
A 2019 report from Pew Research found that 22 percent of the public schools in the continental United States started between Aug. 12 and Aug. 16. Nearly as many started after Labor Day.
In the region that included Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio and Illinois, the Pew report found that most schools started after Labor Day.
Illinois Radio Network can be reached at News@WJBC.com.