KSNF/KODE – Among the dozens of Kansas education bills introduced in 2023, are proposals to change the number of hours public school students spend in the classroom.
Most Kansas public school students attend about 1,100 hours in class each school year, but Kansas House Bill 2224 would dramatically increase that by about 40%.
While Kansas law allows local school boards to choose between 186 school days or 1,116 hours per year, most school districts opt for the latter, as it provides more flexibility in the face of inclement weather, says the Kansas National Education Association.
HB 2224, currently on the House Education Committee, would eliminate both of these options and replace them with a minimum of 195 eight-hour school days or 156 10-hour school days, resulting in a total of 1,560 school hours.
The bill would essentially extend the academic years of most Kansas public schools by 444 hours or 11 weeks.
According to the opponent’s testimony before the House Education Committee, critics of the proposed legislation have pointed to the lack of evidence that a longer school day, as well as a school year, improves student achievement. Including 52 weekends, holidays and other year-end breaks, public school advocates have pointed out that the bill would essentially equal a year-round schooling.
In addition to questioning the need for a longer school year, opponents of the bill have pointed to the uncertain and unfunded cost of extending the school year, since local school boards would likely have to raise student salaries substantially. teachers in negotiations.
Rep. Bill Rhiley, a Wellington, Kansas Republican, committee member, said he introduced the bill because he understood that many school districts are only meeting the bare minimum required hours. Rep. Rhiley also said extending the school year would be at least one step in improving students’ academic achievement.