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Senator "sick and tired" of Kentucky schools starting in early August, says business complaints, hot day bus rides driving him to seek legislative ban in 2016 session
News-Graphic, Georgetown, Aug. 6, 2015

Senators wants to push back school start date
By Dan Adkins

The fact that school started Wednesday irritates Damon Thayer no end.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Thayer, Georgetown’s state senator who is the GOP’s majority floor leader in the Kentucky General Assembly.

“I’m sick and tired of school starting in early August,” he said.

Thayer said he and state Sen. Chris Girdler, a Somerset Republican, will again introduce a bill in January to prohibit school districts from opening their doors earlier than late August.

In part, the bill is motivated by economic factors.

“Here in Georgetown, we have a taxpayer-funded water park that’s closed today — and it’s 90 degrees,” he said.

But it’s not just the closing of Suffoletta Family Aquatic Center that has Thayer so riled.

“I’ve listened to (complaining) parents, teachers and small business people who say starting school this early hurts their business,” Thayer said.

The impact of an early-August school launch extends beyond Scott County, especially in areas around state parks and state-maintained lakes, he said.

Girdler’s district also has a water park as well as Lake Cumberland, whose recreation season — and the money that gets spent during it — gets cut short at the height of the heat.

“It’s not good for our economy, and it’s not good for our kids,” Thayer said, citing pupils having to ride on school buses in the late-summer heat.

Thayer also questions the added expense of August classes, which force school districts to pay higher energy bill to cover air conditioning.

He said he did not recall speaking specifically with Scott County Schools Superintendent Patricia Putty about introducing the bill, although he asserted he has made his view about early-August school openings clear to officials of the four school districts that he represents in Frankfort.

Putty did not respond to an email seeking comment about Thayer’s bill.

“I think we can pass it in the Senate... I haven’t done a vote count or anything like that,” Thayer said about the bill’s chances in the 2016 legislature.