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Districts might extend days to meet educational requirements

Updated: Thursday, February 20 2014, 05:54 AM CST
Reported by: Donna Kirker Morgan

HARRISBURG -- With many missed school days this years, schools are trying to make it all up under tight restrictions dictated under the Education Code.

However, the state department of education is offering school districts several options to improve their tight calendar situations, including the possibility of adding 15 or 20 minutes to a school day.

Today we talked with parents in the Harrisburg School District.

Some parents, such as Justin Thompson, didn’t like the idea of a longer school day, saying the kids are already in school long enough. Parent Angie Moore didn’t like the idea of extending the school year into the summer.

Fortunately, for those Ben Franklin Elementary students, Harrisburg School District starts earlier in the year than most so they probably will not go well into June as some school districts may be forced to do because of all the snow days they’ve seen.  

Tim Eller with the department of education says some districts have missed more than two weeks, most of them in the southeast.

However, the law still requires the districts to complete their required 180 days per school year by June 30. To provide some flexibility, his department will be sending out notices this week to school districts, allowing them to apply for an alternative which would allow them to count instructional hours instead of instructional days.

So how does this help them? Eller says if they have half-day sessions planned soon, they could extend them to full-day sessions or school districts can look at extending the school day by 15 or 20 minutes. All decision would be made on the local level, after the state gives the necessary approvals.

To keep seniors on track towards graduation, school district can also decide whether to take advantage of Saturdays. This only applies to seniors, Eller stressed, saying the school codes does not permit instruction day on Saturday right now.

In 1995-95 the legislature took action to automatically allow district to count instruction hours instead of days and allowed them a choice of whether to use Saturdays to meet the requirements.

The state is also giving schools an extra week to help students prepare and take the PSSA Standardized tests.
Districts might extend days to meet educational requirements

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