by David Safier
This bill sounds good, and it has lots of bipartisan support. So unless I hear of some devilish details, I'm going to say it's a good thing.
HB2488 gives an extra 8% funding to any school with a D or F rating that wants to increase its school year from 180 to 200 days. A longer school year can be a boost for students, especially low achieving students who can use more school time and enrichment to pick up their social and educational skills. Some research indicates that a 200 day school year can boost achievement if the extra time is used effectively.
The level of increased funding is a possible problem here. Currently schools can get 5% extra by going to 200 days, but not many have taken the deal because it doesn't cover costs. The proposed 8% is an improvement, but that only covers about 14 extra days. To fully fund the extra 20 days would take an extra 11%. Will teachers agree to, say, a 6% salary boost, working longer with a lower per-day salary? Will the district figure out other places to cut funding in their meager budgets to make up the difference?
The bill passed through 3 committees with big bipartisan numbers, then got a 43-14 vote in the House. It looks to me like a step in the right direction.