Nearly all of Missouri’s public school districts say agriculture forces them to open classes well before the first of September and nobody makes those districts prove their cases. Tourism interests pushed the original law that banned school openings before the last big holiday weekend of the summer, Labor Day. That law later was changed to move the date up for a September 1st opening. Districts could claim an agricultural exemption to open early so they could let out early for spring planting. Assistant State Commissioner for Education, Burt Schulte, estimates that more than 500 of the state’s 524 school districts calim that agriculture exemption, whether they reside in a primarily agricultural community or not. Schulte says nobody at the state level checks to see if there is enough farming in the district to justify the exemption. He says that is entirely a local school board decision.
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