Mid-Columbia schools could have more flexibility in arranging their school year calendars if a Kennewick lawmaker's bill makes it through the state Legislature.
Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, introduced the bill that would allow school districts to seek waivers from the state to change the number of days and hours per week students are in class.
Three districts around the state, including Paterson, are piloting a similar program.
Klippert said in a news release that he introduced the bill because additional schedule flexibility could benefit schools looking to trim expenses.
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In the Paterson School District, which serves grades K-5, students attend classes 146 days a year. The state standard is 180 days per year. Paterson's school week runs Monday through Thursday.
Despite the fewer days, Klippert said Paterson students are averaging 1,031 hours of instruction, above the minimum 1,000 required by the state.
"(The bill) gives faith and control back to the local school administrators and school boards, allowing us to make local decisions about how education is delivered in each community," said Paterson Superintendent Peggy Douglas in a news release.
Richland Superintendent Jim Busey said he was not familiar with the bill and could not comment on it. However, he said Klippert worked closely with the Richland School District and always in the best interests of students.
Pasco Superintendent Saundra Hill expressed concerns about the bill. She said her district's students need more time in the classroom and making it easier to cut days from the school calendar only would be beneficial if the state continues to cut funding for teacher salaries.
"We have only 178 days (in the classroom) now because of furloughs," she said.
Pasco district officials have discussed putting some of its schools on a year-round schedule. Hill said that proposal is a result of space constraints rather than a need to trim days from a student's school year.