OKLAHOMA CITY — The state superintendent said she supports a bill being considered in the legislature that could move some school districts back to a five-day week.
Senate Bill 441, authored by Sen. Marty Quinn, R-Claremore and Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon, was originally written to restore five-day school weeks. However, it has since undergone changes allowing schools districts three options beginning in the 2020-2021 school year:
- 180 days of classroom time
- 1,080 hours with a minimum of 165 days of classroom time
- 1,080 hours with no minimum of days of classroom time if districts are granted an exemption for meeting guidelines for school performance and cost savings.
The Oklahoma Department of Education would implement rules on performance and cost saving exemptions, which the legislature would have to approve or disprove in the 2020 legislature session.
“It strikes the right balance in ensuring that there are important measures in place to make sure that our kids are growing and that our schools are doing a great job for kids,” State superintendent Joy Hofmeister said Monday. “Currently, some of our schools are dropping so low in their school calendar year that they’re actually only going 140 or 139 days, and that is actually truncating the entire school year so short that it actually increases the summer learning slide.”
Bridge Creek Public Schools are one of 92 school districts in Oklahoma operating on a four-day week. District superintendent David Morrow said the decision made more than three years ago was to recruit and retain teachers.
“We were getting impacted by the teacher shortage, which hasn’t let up, but we have been able to get a quality applicant pool, in my opinion, by offering a four-day week,” Morrow said. “They (families) love it. I get no feedback on the negative side. I’m sure it’s out there, but I do not receive many negative complaints at all.”
The current schedule is something Morrow said the district would like to maintain.
“I feel like that should be a local control issue for each individual district,” he said. “If we wanted to stay on a four-day school week, we’d have to add about 13 days to meet the 165-day requirement.”