Serving Franklin County, WA

Senator: Add more school days

OLYMPIA — An East Wenatchee senator wants students to have a longer school year.

Sen. Brad Hawkins, R-East Wenatchee, has introduced Senate Bill 5505 to add five days to the school calendar.

“S.B. 5505 takes swift and decisive action to support learning recovery with a simple solution — providing our students with additional access to their teachers, their peers and to dedicated support staff,” Hawkins said.

State law currently requires schools to offer a minimum of 180 classroom days for public school students.

Hawkins’ bill bumps that minimum to 185 days.

Hawkins also said he would like to the school year extended over additional months.

“If we adopted a more balanced school calendar, spreading those 180 days or even 185 days over 10 months, the students that come in as kindergarteners, by the time they leave as high school graduates, would be much better prepared for success in our global economy,” he said.

Summer break was implemented more than a century ago so children could work on the family farm in summer months, he said. But that agrarian calendar causes children to experience a summer slide and an annual learning loss.

“I would love to see, ultimately, a model where we have approximately 200 state funded days in the school year,” Hawkins said. “I think we have massive learning loss that justifies something along those lines to catch these students up.”

Learning loss increased during the pandemic because students spent less time in class, said Tyler Muench, director of Advocacy and Student Affairs for the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s Office.

Jeannie Magdua, a founding member of Conservative Ladies of Washington, said she does not think adding additional school days will help with the learning loss children experienced after having their lives disrupted by the pandemic.

“It’s too general and doesn’t seek to find out exactly what each student needs to regain the learning that was lost,” she said. “It would be better, I think, to create a fund that parents could access to hire private tutors to help their children catch up with the learning that was denied them during the shutdown.”


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