KSNF/KODE — Among dozens of Kansas education bills filed in 2023, are proposals to adjust how many hours public school students spend in the classroom.
Most Kansas public school students attend classes for about 1,100 hours each school year, but Kansas House Bill 2224 would drastically increase that by about 40%.
While Kansas law allows local school boards to pick between 186 school days or 1,116 hours per year, most school districts opt for the latter, since it provides for greater flexibility in the face of inclement weather, the Kansas National Education Association states.
HB 2224, currently in the House Education Committee, would eliminate both of those options and and replace them with minimums of 195, eight-hour school days or 156, 10-hour school days, with either totaling to 1,560 hours of school.
The bill would essentially extend most Kansas public schools’ academic years by 444 hours, or 11 weeks.
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According to opponent testimony before the House Education Committee, critics of the proposed legislation pointed to the lack of evidence that a longer school day, as well as school year, improves student achievement. Factoring out 52 weekends, holidays, and other end-of-term breaks, public school advocates pointed out the bill would basically amount to year-round schooling.
In addition to questioning the need for a longer school year, opponents of the bill pointed to the uncertain and unfunded cost of extending the school year, since local school boards would likely have to make substantial raises to teacher salaries in negotiations.
Representative Bill Rhiley, a Wellington, Kansas Republican on the committee said he introduced the bill because he understood many school districts are only meeting the bare minimum of required hours. Representative Rhiley also said extending the school year would be at least one step to improving students’ academic achievement.