The Iowa House has approved legislation that would allow K-12 schools to adopt a four day week. Current state law requires K-12 schools to complete at least 180 days a year, but this bill changes the days to hours — requiring 1,080 hours a year. Margaret Buckton is the lobbyist for the Urban Education Network which represents Iowa’s eight largest school districts. She says counting hours instead of days would provide a lot more flexibility.
“The local board would be able to decide, do you have some days that are longer than others, do you add more time on Monday through Thursday and then work with students who have specific needs on Friday? Do you save transportation costs by considering a four day week?,” Buckton sad.
She says counting hours means schools that frequently start late because of fog or leave early because of heat could pad other days.
“It’s important that time (is spent) on students with a qualified teacher, I mean, that’s what school is about,” Buckton says, “And this bill actually puts that priority with a minimum floor of 1,080 hours on every school board’s table and they have to figure out how to manage that and it protects that time.”
But Representative Dennis Cohoon, a Democrat from Burlington, asked his colleagues to oppose the bill. The retired special education teacher says he supports the concept, but is worried some districts will have trouble meeting the new standard because it requires six hours a day of classroom time as opposed to the current five-and-half.
The bill passed the House on a 63-33 vote and now goes to the Senate.