2019-02-13 wcat-ms classroom

This Wagoner Middle School classroom was typical of many in the school system, which uses the extra 10 minutes of class time each day to learn more using the four-day-a-week school calendar. JOHN FERGUSON/AMERICAN-TRIBUNE file

Getting all of the state’s school districts back on five-day weeks is proving more difficult than lawmakers expected.

Late last week Senate Bill 441, by Sen. Marty Quinn, R-Claremore, was pulled off the House calendar and sent to the Rules Committee. SB 441 wouldn’t completely preclude districts from four-day weeks, but it would make them much harder to justify.

Lawmakers, especially Republicans, have taken a public relations beating over the number of Oklahoma districts on four-day weeks, and some of them have taken it personally.

But some districts, small ones especially, have come to rely on the four-day weeks to help them recruit and retain teachers and in some cases to make ends meet.

SB 441 is expected back on the House agenda this week, after the House Rules Committee turned it into something leadership hopes is harder for everybody to refuse. It combines the school calendar provisions with the $1,200 teacher pay raise sought by Gov. Kevin Stitt but not that well loved by legislators, even those friendly to public education.

Under the current provisions of SB 441, schools could meet for 180 or as few as 165 days with a minimum of 1,080 hours of instruction.

Districts could apply for a waiver from the 165-day rule if they can convince the state Department of Education that doing so won’t affect student performance and will save money.

In practice, the 165-day rule would mean schools could have four-day weeks for only about half the school year.

The amended bill would delay implementation of these provisions for one year.

Randy has been with the Tulsa World since 1979. He is a native of Hinton, Okla., and graduate of Oklahoma State University. Krehbiel primarily covers government and politics. Phone: 918-581-8365

Recommended for you