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Legislation requiring younger students to attend class clears House

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SPRINGFIELD — Students would be required to start school sooner under a proposal endorsed by the Illinois House Monday.

Children who would turn six on or before Sept. 1 would be required to begin class in the 2014-2015 school year under the plan.

The legislation cleared on a vote of 64-52. It now moves back to the Senate for further consideration.

Currently, the compulsory school age is seven.

A similar measure sponsored by state Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, is pending in the Senate.

Her proposal would require students who will reach age seven in an upcoming school year to attend in that same year, even if that child is six at the school year’s start.

Scherer, a former schoolteacher, said it was her original intent for her plan to include all 6-year-olds, and she said she supports the similar legislation that cleared the House Monday.

“This was my original bill more or less,” Scherer said. “But this one’s passed now. So it’s good for public schools in Illinois, that’s for sure.”

Yet, opponents said the measure is unnecessary, as 6-year-olds are already allowed to attend school, and the decision should be left to parents.

State Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, said Scherer’s proposal, which the House approved in April, should first be discussed in the Senate before considering this similar plan.

“This is a radical move,” Bost said. “We’re jumping headlong into a case of mandatory requirement on age, moving that age.”

Scherer said she could not calculate the amount of a potential additional cost.

“There’s just no way to foresee who would be picked up with that,” she said.

The legislation is Senate Bill 1307 and House Bill 2762.

hannah.douglas@lee.net

217-528-1079

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