One of the bills that has failed to advance in the legislature would have required K-12 schools to complete a certain number of hours a year, as opposed to days. Greg Baker represents Professional Educators of Iowa, a teachers’ organization advocating for more flexibility in the school calendar. He says some schools in western Iowa are considering a four day week to save on transportation.

“This has become quite common in Nebraska now in some of the rural districts where they’ll shut down Saturday, Sunday and Monday and be completely open Tuesday through Friday,” Baker says. The bill failed to make it out of the Senate where Brian Schoenjahn, a Democrat from Arlington, said the arrangement would create a significant burden for some families, as rural Iowa elementary schools also serve as daycare.

“If we go to that four day week, the additional costs on parents especially with both parents working would be tremendous,” Schoenjahn says. He is also worried teachers and staff would demand additional pay if a school day was lengthened to make up for a previous early dismissal.

I think this could open the door to some real contract issues,” Schoenjahn says, “I think we would be going down the road to staff plus overtime that could break some of our districts.” Senator Shawn Hammerlinck, a Repubican from Dixon says he’s disappointed to see the measure die.

“Any high quality Superintendent in the state of Iowa should be able to manage a schedule based on hours in order to achieve a school year and schedule for it in an appropriate manner,” Hammerlink says, “i a superintendent can’t do that then, no offense, they’re not qualified to be a superintendent.”

Schoenjahn says counting classroom hours instead of days deserves further study but says the bill will not advance this year.