Oklahoma Republican Legislators push for mandatory 5-day school week

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Some Oklahoma lawmakers want to ensure public school students attend school five days a week.

Due to years of dwindling school budgets, some Oklahoma school districts said they survived by going to four-day school weeks.

Some of the districts said the silver-lining was their ability to recruit and retain teachers with the shorter workweek.

"We believe the five-day school week is extremely important if you put the focus on the student," said Senator Greg Treat.

Oklahoma Republican Legislators have multiple bills on the docket this session that would mandate the five-day school 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," Treat said.

House Democrats said they won't endorse the mandate to go five days 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.

In 2009, Oklahoma switched from number of days required to be in class to number of hours. That opened the door for some districts to switch.

McLoud schools made the switch in August.

"We have increased attendance, which should improve our test scores, and we are retaining teachers," said Steve Stanley, McLoud superintendent.

Officials said teachers see the four-day week as a perk, and the push back from parents having to find options for child care just hasn't happened.

"Since we started it, I haven't had one single phone call, one email except for positive ones. 'Thank you we want to keep this we get to spend more time with our kids,'" Stanley said.

Legislators said there could be exceptions if schools show student performance is not adversely affected.

"Schools will have a five-day school week unless they show a cost-saving and no adverse effect on the student," Treat said.

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