15th District lawmakers introduce bill to allow schools’ flexibility to go to four day week

House Bill 1292 is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Education Committee


Local lawmakers today outlined legislation they introduced that would allow school districts the ability to operate on a four-day school week. House Bill 1292 and its companion, Senate Bill 5112, would allow the State Board of Education to grant waivers from the 180 day school year requirement.

“When Lyle School District Superintendant Martin Huffman contacted me with this idea, it sounded like a good, common-sense solution to meet varying needs of local school districts. Allowing districts the flexibility to operate on a four-day school week would be beneficial both economically and academically,” said Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside.

“This bill is about local control,” said Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside. “It’s about parents, teachers and district officials finding an instructional schedule that works best for their communities. There may be ideas out there that would result in more money being spent in the classroom if the districts had more flexibility.”

Rep. Bruce Chandler, R-Granger, pointed out that rural school districts face many unique challenges that larger, urban school districts usually don’t have to consider.

“In rural areas it’s common for a team to drive three and four hours, sometimes more, to a competitor’s school. This travel time requires students and staff to miss large chunks of the school day on a regular basis,” Chandler said. “House Bill 1292 would give local school districts the tools they need to best serve their students by allowing flexibility in the school week without compromising educational standards.”

Superintendent Huffman said the option of going to a four-day school week has broad community support. He said the Lyle School District studied a successful four-day work week model implemented in 1995 in Custer, South Dakota.

“The Custer School District has not reported any negative impacts on student achievement. In fact, they have reported an increase in student and teacher attendance, and cost savings to the district,” said Huffman.

HB 1292 would require students receive the same number of instructional hours as a five-day schedule.

“House Bill 1292 would provide parents and teachers the ability to create a successful educational environment that best meets individual district and community needs,” said Newhouse. “At the same time, districts would be able to save taxpayer dollars.”

HB 1292 has been scheduled for a public hearing in the House Education Committee at 10 a.m., Jan. 27, 2009.

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Washington State House Republican Communications