OKLAHOMA CITY – The Senate on Thursday passed a bill designed to reduce the number of school districts in the state on a four-day school week.
Senate Bill 441, by Sen. Marty Quinn, R-Claremore, heads to the House after securing passage in the upper chamber by a 31-17 vote.
The measure would require districts to be in session 165 days or 1,080 hours or a combination of both, Quinn said.
Currently, districts are required to be in session 1,080 hours or 180 days, of which 175 are instructional. Exceptions would be allowed if districts could show academic performance and cost savings, Quinn said.
The State Board of Education would then be charged with making rules governing the exceptions before the Legislature would have to approve them during the 2020 session.
“I don’t feel a straight four-day week gives students the best opportunity for more quality instructional time,” Quinn said. “The truth is a four-day week has become a matter of convenience rather than focusing on the students.”
Returning to a five-day week is one of the priorities for the Senate Republican Caucus.
Oklahoma has 512 traditional districts, 26 charters, and four virtual charters, according to information provided last month by the State Department of Education. The state had 92 districts at a four-day week and the reasons for the shift ranged from cuts to education to an effort to attract educators during a teacher shortage.
Sen. Gary Stanislawski, R-Tulsa, said schools are getting paid to be in session 180 days, though many are not in session the required days.
Sen. J.J. Dossett, D-Owasso, said the state needs to show the proper investment in education before passing the proposed measure.
“Doing this is putting the cart before the horse, which is the investment,” Dossett said.