Missouri Senate committee discusses requiring five-day school weeks for some districts

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Roughly 30% of all Missouri school districts are only in session four days a week this year but legislation is moving forward in the statehouse to push districts back to five-day weeks.

The General Assembly approved four-day school weeks more than a decade ago to help schools save money after the recession. Instead, the shortened schedule is being used as a perk to hire and retain teachers. Sen. Doug Beck, D-Affton, is one lawmaker who wants to put an end to that and keep kids in the classroom.

“This bill is filled with a lot of carrots; there are no sticks and that’s what I was trying to do with this bill,” Beck said. “I was trying to incentivize five-day schools.”

In a state that is suffering from a large shortage of educators, 168 districts have implemented a shortened week. That’s 25 more schools than last year and an increase of more than 100 schools in the last five years.

“We live in a big and diverse state and as such, different communities, different districts have different needs,” Beck said. “Four-day school weeks are popular and seem to have minimal repercussions to leaving and teacher retention.”

The Senate Select Committee on Empowering Missouri Parents and Children discussed Beck’s legislation, Senate Bill 784, on Wednesday. The bill would mandate five-day school weeks unless the general public approved them, but it would only apply to districts in counties or cities with a population of at least 30,000.

This comes as the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released a report earlier this month, showing four-day school weeks have little to no effect on academic achievement.

“If all schools go to four-day school weeks, is it still a recruitment and retention strategy for us and does it provide us great teachers for our kids,” DESE Commissioner Margie Vandeven said earlier this month.

A new study released by the SAS Institute, which was hired by the department to study the effect four-day school weeks have on students, found the shortened week neither helpful nor harmful.

Amanda Weissman with the SAS Institute told the State Board of Education earlier this month, more than a dozen states have researched the impacts of a shortened week and Missouri falls in line with the findings. The SAS Institute used data to measure student achievement and building growth from 2011 through the 2021–2022 school year. The data included standardized test results for third through eighth grades and end-of-course tests for high school students.

Last year, the Independence School District, just outside of Kansas City, voted to implement a four-day week. With nearly 14,000 students, it’s the largest district so far to make the switch. Under Beck’s legislation, the district would be required to ask voters to continue with that schedule.

“This does not prohibit four-day weeks but rather involves a whole community by allowing the people to decide what works best for their neighborhood,” Beck said.

With Missouri being a local control state, districts can make this decision on their own without approval from DESE.

Another piece of Beck’s bill incentivizes districts to have longer school years. Under current law, schools cannot start the year earlier than 14 days before the first Monday in September. The language in the bill would make an exception to the rule by allowing districts with a calendar of 175 school days to start earlier.

Districts that have implemented shortened weeks are still required to meet the same number of instructional hours as schools that hold five-day weeks. At present, state law requires 1,044 hours in school.

However, those in the hospitality industry testified against that provision on Wednesday, saying they oppose an earlier start date.

“It’s really important to have as many weekends as possible for us to be able to make our bottom line,” Larry Helms, executive director of the Missouri Association of RVs and Campgrounds, said. “The outdoor hospitality industry hires a lot of students and with those students, often times depends on when that start date is set. If they are no longer available to work in businesses, it has a negative impact on those businesses.”

The bill would also require the state’s education department to send extra money to schools with five-day weeks to increase teacher salaries.

The committee did not take any action on the bill on Wednesday but could in the coming weeks.

Read the study by clicking here.


Read original article here

Denial of responsibility! Web Times is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – webtimes.uk. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave a Comment