Q: "What is your position on the proposed change from a 180-day school year to a 1,080 hour instructional hour plan?"
State Senator Steve Sodders (D-State Center)-
"This proposal is one of several innovative ideas that are being considered during the current legislative session as Republican and Democratic legislators work to reform and improve our local schools.
"Overall, I support of policies that offer local flexibility and local innovation IF they are likely to result in increased student achievement and boost teacher quality. This legislation passed the House in a bipartisan manner and I will consider it carefully when it comes before the Senate. Another important step we must take to help boost student achievement and teacher quality is to adequately fund local schools. That's why I have consistently supported increasing basic funding for Iowa schools by 4 percent for each of the next school years."
State Rep. Dean Fisher (R-Garwin)-
"This bill, House File 352, passed the House on March 14 with bipartisan support of 84 Ayes to 15 Nays.
"I voted for the bill. When I first heard about this bill I contacted all seven school superintendents in my legislative district to get their input. The responses I got back indicated that this change wouldn't make a great deal of difference, but might add some flexibility.
"The typical school day includes six hours of instruction time; the state requirement is 5.5 minimum to constitute a day. Thus, with the 180 day requirement the current requirement is 990 minimum. The exception to the 5.5 hour rule is if there is a safety issue such as bad weather. Last year all but 47 of the 1,391 school buildings met this 990 hour requirement. With respect to the 1,080 hour requirement, 1,154 of our school buildings met the requirement last year.
"Most schools regularly have six hours of instructional hours, but this can vary between elementary, middle, and high school buildings.
"Under the 1,080 hour system a late start or early out may count for a few hours that wouldn't have counted as a day under the 180 day system. This may save a few days on the calendar, or it may add a few days if they were due to bad weather that would have been counted as a day under the old system.
"Thus, it is not clear if this change will make a great deal of difference in actual days and class time. A few other states have gone to only hours, while far more include both days and hours.
"This bill now goes to the Senate for consideration."