OKLAHOMA CITY – A measure that would ensure that public school students attend class five days a week has passed a committee.
Due to years of dwindling school budgets, some Oklahoma school districts decided to switch to four-day school weeks. In addition to saving money, the districts said it was a way to recruit and retain teachers.
“We have increased attendance, which should improve our test scores, and we are retaining teachers,” said McLoud Public Schools Superintendent Steve Stanley.
However, many Republican lawmakers believe districts should move back to a five-day week.
“Study after study has shown hours in the classroom and a student’s attention – if they need to be there from 6 in the morning til 3-4 at night, their attention span doesn’t work as well,” Sen. Greg Treat said.
This legislative session, lawmakers have proposed multiple bills that would do just that.
On Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee approved Senate Bill 441, which would restore the five-day school week.
The bill would require all public schools to be in session for no less than 180 days. Currently, schools are supposed to be in session for 1,080 hours. The bill provides exemptions to the rule if schools can prove that four-day weeks aren't adversely affecting student achievement.
“Senate Republicans are committed to keeping our word on the historic teacher pay raises and doing what’s best for students and that means restoring five-day school weeks. We also believe in the importance of local control, which is why we’ve included reasonable exemptions to the five-day week. I appreciate my Senate colleagues for advancing the bill today and look forward to moving it forward through the process,” Sen. Mary Quinn said.
Earlier this month, House Democrats told News 4 that they wouldn't endorse the mandate without fixing other things.
"To say, from the Legislature, no, you have to have this plan exactly how we want it, when we know that we have continually underfunded them and that's the reason why they are open four days a week - that's foolish," said Emily Virgin, House Minority Leader.