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Ohio Voters Support a Later and more Unified School Start

OTA Polls Ohioans

Ohio Voters Support a Later and more Unified School Start

Ohio voters want more time in the summer to spend with families and to earn money, and they want less time in hot classrooms.  

In response to Senator Gayle Manning’s introduction of Senate Bill 34, a bill which would make starting school after Labor Day the default unless local school boards hold public hearings, the Ohio Travel Association worked with a renowned public opinion polling firm to explore how Ohioans feel about the issue. Public Opinion Strategies conducted a survey of 800 registered Ohio voters in September.

Ninety-three percent (93%) of Ohio voters say they’ve never been asked their opinion on when the school year should begin by their local school boards. Neither have teachers, with 71% of teachers reporting they’ve never been asked their preference for a start date.

Ohio voters want a longer summer break instead of a broken up school year. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Ohio voters prefer a school start date after Labor Day and 12% prefer school starting the fourth week of August.  That’s 71% of voters who are saying school shouldn’t start before the end of August.

Teachers and parents support the proposed bill which defaults the start till after Labor Day, with 65% of teachers supporting the bill and 61% of parents. Overall, 66% support the legislation.

 “What was most remarkable about this survey is that this support cuts across partisan, geographic and demographic lines,” said Neil Newhouse of Public Opinion Strategies. “It’s rare to have an issue with such overwhelming and broad support.”

Voters identified August heat making it difficult for kids to learn as one of their top reasons for supporting a later start. Seventy-one percent (71%) said forcing students to learn when temperatures are in the ‘90s hurts learning. 

Ohioans also want greater uniformity in school start dates across the state. The variance in starting dates creates hardships for extended and divided families to plan time together. Comments also expressed that lack of uniformity is confusing for both drivers and truancy officers.

Other top reasons for support of a later school start included the inability for students to secure summer jobs and internships over the summer, more family time, lower school utility costs, and the inability for teachers to pursue advanced degrees and additional training over the summer.



Former Texas education commissioner Robert Scott has said a later school start in his state has not compromised education excellence. “Since the fourth Monday in August became law, we were seeing better student performance. Dropout rates improved. Graduation rates were at an all-time high. Texas students outperformed the ACT national average in math and science scores, and K-12 calendars were better aligned with college and university calendars. This allowed more high school students to take college-level courses, simultaneously earning both high school and college level credits.” The top 10 states recording highest ACT scores begin school the last week of August or later.

The Ohio Travel Association represents businesses who depend on the $43 billion travel economy, including museums, visitors bureaus, attractions, hotels, restaurants, retail shops and their suppliers. Finding workers is one of the primary impediments to growth of the Ohio travel economy, making a later school start an important issue for these businesses. Extending time for families to travel is also good for the economy, and that means additional tax dollars to support schools.

“We already knew a later school start is good for the economy and can boost local and state revenues to support schools and other priorities,” said Melinda Huntley, Ohio Travel Association executive director. “What we needed to discover is how Ohioans – including teachers and parents – felt about this issue. They are the ones most impacted, and they’ve never been asked.”