The Decorah Community School District has set a tentative school start date for the 2014 year as Wednesday, Aug. 20.

Following a public hearing on the matter, which drew no public comment, the Board approved the application for a school start date waiver, a process which is required for schools to start earlier than Sept. 1. Last year, all but eight of Iowa's 348 school districts approved the waivers.

In a related matter, the Board conducted a public hearing, which drew no public comment, on whether or not to remain with the District's current system of logging total number of days in a school year or switching to accounting for the total number of hours to meet the state's minimum attendance requirements.

Districts were previously given a deadline of March 1 to decide whether to have their instructional time based on either 180 days or 1,080 total hours.

Superintendent Mike Haluska explained the deadline for districts to make the decision has been extended due to some issues with how the new rules for attendance were written.

"There was no provision for late starts or early outs for weather," said Haluska, adding under the new provisions, any day students were not in school for at least six hours would not be counted. (Currently, for purposes of attendance, a school "day" consists of only 5.5 hours.)

Haluska said every superintendent he has talked to is struggling with the decision, adding the Iowa Association of School Boards has the issue on the "fast track" to work through the issues.

The Board will take action on which option to choose at an upcoming meeting, at which time the final schedule for the school calendar will be determined.