By Kyle Boaz
School districts will have more flexibility moving forward thanks to Missouri Senate Bill 743.
“Towards the end of the second semester we start to put the calendar together,” Louisiana Superintendent Dr. Todd Smith said.
“It’s not a real intricate process. We had different parameters we could work within, 174 days and 1,044 hours of instruction or you could do less than 174 days as long as long as you made those hours. You just had to [clarify] which way you were going to go.”
Senate Bill 743 states that “public schools are required to be in session for a minimum of 174 days and 1,044 hours a year. Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, this act changes the requirement to a minimum of 1,044 hours of actual pupil attendance with no minimum number of required school days except for kindergarten pupils who shall be provided a minimum of 522 hours of actual pupil attendance with no minimum number of days.”
The bill will go into effect on Tuesday, Aug. 28.
“I think it’s a great change. This all goes back to local control for school districts. This gives our board control of what our school year looks like based on what our community wants and needs,” Smith said.
The way that half days were counted was a factor beforehand.
“If you did less than 174 days, the way a half day counts comes into the mix,” Smith said.
If some sort of weather related emergency occurred, like snow, only three hours would be required for the day to count in the days schedule.
In the hours schedule, you have to go four hours.
“If we multiply the days we’re in session by hours in session we’re well over 1,044. With the passage of this we’ll look at it next year and see what route we want to go. It’s not a huge effect. The hours of instruction are still there. It just gives more flexibility to the districts to fit within that parameter,” Smith said.
The Bowling Green district made the switch to 1,044 hours a few years ago.
“It gives us a bit more flexibility,” Bowling Green Superintendent Dr. Matt Frederickson said.
“The minimum has always been 1,044. It just makes sense to go by hours and not days.”
Schools will be also have to have their calendars “include 36 make-up hours for possible loss of attendance due to inclement weather,” according to the bill’s language.