Mimi Testifies Before Virginia Education Committee

Calling the lack of elementary school preparedness a threat to the state’s long-term economic health, Alexandria School Board member Mimi Carter testified before the Virginia House of Delegates Education Committee today in Richmond in support of HB 1111.

Under current Virginia law, schools are prohibited from opening prior to Labor Day.  Exemptions may be granted for schools with weather-related issues or for those with innovative programs that require an earlier start date.

If enacted, HB 1111 would also allow Title I elementary schools in Virginia, those with large numbers of economically disadvantaged children, to apply for such an exemption.

“Research shows that economically disadvantaged children lose ground over the summer,” said Carter, who also serves as Executive Vice President of SparkLight Communications.  “One way to address this problem is by giving at-risk schools the option of opening earlier and providing more classroom time.  Unfortunately,” she said, “that’s not allowed under current Virginia law.”

Introduced by Education Committee member Delegate Adam Ebbin, HB 1111 is opposed by the Virginia tourism industry and King’s Dominion.  A King’s Dominion spokesperson claims that allowing at-risk schools the option of opening early would harm tourism in the state and cause economic harm.

But according to Carter, the economic consequences of not developing a vibrant workforce is a far greater risk to the state’s economic health than any threatened loss of tourism.  “Virginia’s demographics are changing.  If we really want to prepare our children, and build a 21st century, then we must take action.  HB 1111 won’t solve everything,” Carter said, “but it’s a modest start.”

Please click here for a copy of Mimi’s written statement in support of HB 1111.


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