Minnesota legislators are hearing about a perennial topic -- whether to allow public school districts to start classes before Labor Day.

The House Education Policy Committee heard debate last week and again on Tuesday about the issue. Generally, school officials have asked the committee for the flexibility to decide when to start, and resort-owners and the State Fair have argued for keeping the current policy.

Under state law, no district can begin classes before Labor Day. Exemptions are granted for specific reasons, including construction projects or border districts that coordinate schedules with districts in neighboring states.

The committee was told that only two other states, Iowa and Virginia, have such a prohibition, and they allow most schools to ignore it and start earlier. They also learned that the month of August is a vital moneymaker for Minnesota's resort owners considering the shortness of the Minnesota summer.

Committee members expressed skepticism about the idea, and the chairman, Rep. Carlos Mariani, DFL-St. Paul, said a vote is likely next week.

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