House approves school flexibility measure

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CONTACT: Kurt Hammond, Senior Public Information Officer | 360-786-7794

House approves school flexibility measure

Rep. Bruce Chandler, R-Granger, said flexibility and local control were at the heart of House Bill 1292, which passed the House of Representatives 87-10.

The bill would create a pilot program allowing certain schools to waive the 180 school day requirement. Up to five districts serving less than 500 students are eligible to participate in the pilot program.

“This is about offering local control to districts so they can decide what is best. It provides them with ability to be more efficient,” Chandler said. “Too often the state sends mandates down to the school districts. This allows them to decide what would work better for their communities.”

School districts seeking the 180-day waiver must submit a calendar as well as public comment taken from the affected communities.

“This process engages the community, parents and school employees to allow the districts to test out a plan that can save money and improve student learning,” Chandler said.

School days would be lengthened 30 to 45 minutes to accommodate for the fifth day in which students would normally attend. The 1,000 hour requirement for classroom instruction must still be met.

Chandler noted that many school districts currently have several four-day school weeks in a year due to teacher in-service days, holidays and severe weather.

“Schools don't have to schedule four-day school weeks every week under this proposal,” Chandler said. “They would adjust their weekly schedules according to their schools' best interests.”

Local superintendents Palmer and Huffman testified this bill would enhance a district's ability to be efficient in its operations. They predicted a 20 percent in overall cost savings. Seventeen states in the country currently allow four-day school weeks.

“This plan certainly is not for everyone,” Chandler said. “But some smaller school districts can greatly benefit from this idea by saving time, fuel costs, and potentially increased attendance.”

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov