Fall 2016 School District Start Dates

It may be hard to believe school will be starting so soon - especially if you are in the middle of that one last vacation or currently soaking up summer at the beach. For Novi, Northville, and South Lyon, Michigan, school will be starting after Labor Day, as Michigan law dictates:

  • South Lyon schools start September 6th with a half school day for all students.

Michigan is one of only three states, including Minnesota, and Virginia requiring schools to wait until after Labor Day to start classes. Wisconsin’s law prevents schools from starting until September 1st.

Why Michigan Starts School After Labor Day

In September of 2005, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm signed legislation as part of a jobs package intended to facilitate the tourism industry calling it “a great economic tool that will create new job opportunities in Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.” The law went to affect in the 2006-2007 school year.

Some School Districts Get Waivers

Since 2006, school administrators in Southeast Michigan, which are less affected by the tourism industry, have been filling out paperwork to apply for waivers each year to get permission to start earlier.

Many school districts have been denied waivers and still have post Labor Day start dates, but more schools are getting waivers - conditions for which were written into the law - to start earlier. There are at least 53 school districts and charter schools, 16 intermediate districts and 13 independent school districts which have waivers from the Michigan Dept. of Education.

The conditions for waivers include:

  • Operate on a year-round calendar
  • Offer summer learning options to all students targeting specific district goals  
  • Provide early/middle college programs in partnership with post-secondary institutions

That many of Southeast Michigan’s schools meet the conditions for the waiver attests to this area’s different needs from that of the Upper Peninsula, although 16 districts and 9 independent districts have been denied waivers this year due to failure to comply with one of the conditions.

In the past, as many as 100 school districts have received waivers. The State of Michigan has mandated five more instruction days to be added to the upcoming school year - 180 total up from 175 for last year - which means going deep into June when students and teachers are ready for a break, instead of adding them in before Labor Day when everyone is fresh from vacation.

Another factor making waivers helpful is that the M-STEP - the major test each district is gearing its students toward taking each year - ends in mid May, so a school year that runs more concurrently with the testing schedule, ending shortly after the tests are done instead of running into mid June, make more sense for students and teachers.

Take Away

Michigan’s after Labor Day school start date was put into practice to help the state’s tourism industry in Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. The intent was to create new job opportunities. A number of schools districts throughout the middle and lower portion of Michigan that are not impacted by tourism have applied for waivers to start earlier.

If you live in Northville, Novi, or South Lyon, Michigan, school will begin on September 6, 2016.