MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Most Alabama school children will be headed back to school later in the summer than planned after the Alabama Legislature voted Thursday to override Gov. Robert Bentley's veto of a bill that changes the school start date for many school children.
The Alabama Senate voted 23-8 Thursday to pass the bill, despite the governor's veto. Bentley had also added an executive amendment that would have given local school systems the choice to opt out of the later school start date. The House voted 71-21 Tuesday to override the governor's veto.
The sponsor, Republican Rep. Randy Davis of Daphne, said the law would extend Alabama's tourist season and allow the state to collect more tax revenue.
Opponents complained the new law would take control of the school calendar from local school systems.
Since lawmakers overrode the governor's veto, the bill automatically becomes law.
Davis said the later start day would generate as much as $22 million in tax revenue because he said it would extend the amount of time tourists stay at the beach and other attractions and increase the amount they spend in hotels, restaurants and other places.
State law currently requires students to attend class for180 days a year. Under the new law that number of days can be reduced if students are in class for extra hours each day.
Republican Sen. Trip Piittman said he thought the quality of classroom instruction was more important than the number of days students are in the classroom.
Sen. Bill Holtzclaw of Huntsville urged senators to let Bentley's veto stand.
He said local school systems need control over their calendars.
"Local government should make the decision concerning in when school starts," Holtzclaw said.
He also pointed out that some Alabama high schools have made lists of the best in the country. To maintain those performances, students need more not less time in the classroom.
A spokesman for Bentley said the governor believes school systems should decide when students go to school.
"The intent of the bill in regard to tourism is good, but the governor also believes local school systems must have local control, including the flexibility to set their own school calendars," said Jeremy King, a spokesman for the governor.