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Lawmakers push to change Kings Dominion law — again

RICHMOND, Va. -- Icy roads have meant shifting school calendars in Central Virginia, but even before the winter storms, state lawmakers were considering giving local school districts more control over their yearly calendar.

Specifically, a change to what's known as the Kings Dominion rule, a law which requires public schools to begin the school year after Labor Day unless they are granted a waiver.

The rule was originally passed in 1986 to help Virginia’s tourism industry so parks like King Dominion and Busch Gardens can stay open longer and employ high school seasonal workers.

However, there are multiple bills in the House and Senate aimed at changing the rule. If approved by lawmakers, local school districts could decide when to begin the year.

Theme park.

Theme park.

"I think the local schools should be able to decide what they need,” said Omar Montesclaros, who lives in Richmond.  “They better know what their students need and what their facilities are able to do."

However, more than 65-percent of Virginia students already start the year before Labor Day because of the available waiver, state officials said.

"I think it would be great to go back to school before Labor Day because then you can get out earlier, in June,” said Aubrey Athey, who attended school in northern Virginia.

Shawn Turner and his daughter, Zemi.

Shawn Turner and his daughter, Zemi.

But Shawn Turner, who got his daughter, Zemi, a sweet treat for her birthday on Sunday, said fun like they're having on a warm Sunday in Carytown -- makes him think things should stay as they are.

"There's plenty of time for school.  School goes long enough as it is,” Turner said. “I think it's good for the kids and the families.”

State lawmakers have tried to change the Kings Dominion rule practically every year and similar bills have never passed.