Bill that would push back first day of school in Missouri advances in Jefferson City

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some call it the battle for the end of summer. A proposal in Missouri to ban starting school in early August has advanced in Jefferson City.

Supporters of this bill aren't arguing that kids should be in school less. Their beef is what they call the gradual creep of the first day of school, from late August into early August.

Naturally, people who rely on Missouri tourism dollars believe this would help the economy and, by extension, funding for schools.

But that's not the only group who feels like summer is worth fighting for.

George Hoff at Stone Pillar Vineyard and Winery relies on summer help from teens on both sides of the state line. But every year at the most critical stage of his business, he loses more than half of his teen workforce.

"Harvest can be kind of tricky," Hoff said. "It usually starts about the beginning of August, and that`s about the time kids are going back to school."

That's one of the reasons for the push behind House Bill 161. It would ban any school district from starting the school year in the first two weeks of August. Republican State Rep. Jeff Knight is the bill's sponsor.

"It's tourism. It's families. It's teenagers working and generating revenue to fund these schools," he said.

Nearly every school district in the state is opposed to this idea.

Last week FOX4 talked with education leaders who argued a state mandate dictating local school calendars would jeopardize summer school, fall and spring breaks and testing.

But Knight maintains, in many parts of Missouri, tourism dollars generally benefit local school budgets and facilities.

"You cut into summer, and you cut into tourism," he said. "You're cutting into some of your chances of not getting fully-funded, in my opinion."

H.B. 161 already passed the Missouri House and is advancing through Missouri Senate committees. If this bill is signed into law by the governor, it wouldn't take effect until the 2020-21 school year.

Back at State Pillar Vineyard, Hoff isn't interested in political debates. But he knows what's good for his business, and he suspects he isn't alone.

"Kids would have some more summer. Kids would have some more money in their pockets. Parents would get a little bit more of a break," he said. "That`s the whole point of summer."

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