A bill that would allow students participating in the Indiana State Fair exempt absences from school passed in the Senate Tuesday.
Four out of every 10 schools now start classes before the state fair begins in August.
Senate Bill 114 – authored by Sen. Jean Lesising, R-Oldenburg – allows students three exempt absences to attend the fair. Last year more than 16,000 students participated in state fair projects.
Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, said he supports the bill because of his affiliation with the State Fair Legislative Advisory Committee.
Currently, school superintendents have to make decisions concerning fair-related absences in their own districts. The legislation would create a uniform exemption across the state.
But Sen. Earlene Rogers, D-Gary, said lawmakers have already decided that students need to be in school 180 days. She said schools can give these absences if they want to and it shouldn’t be decided by the state.
The bill passed 28-21 and will now moves to the House.
A parallel house bill – authored by Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield – passed the House Education Committee unanimously and is also being considered in the House.
Both bills address the same issues.
However, the House bill is stricter about which students can use the exemptions. The House bill states that only students in good academic standing with the school may be excused.
Paige Clark is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.