Bill requiring number of public school days heads for final votes - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Bill requiring number of public school days heads for final votes

Joann Marshall Joann Marshall
Isabella Marshall Isabella Marshall

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Furlough Fridays no more.

In a way around negotiations, some lawmakers are trying to keep kids in the classroom, by passing a law requiring a minimum number of school days and in the process lengthen them as well.

The bill is headed for final votes this week.

If passed, it would be the first time the state has made a law for the number of school days.

Joann Marshall and her daughter Isabella may not agree on most issues, but what they both see eye to eye on is closing the book on Furlough Fridays.

"I think if Hawaii wants to be competitive, to have their children be competitive with the rest of the nation and the world, that certain amount of time in the classroom is a place to start," Marshall said.

Isabella says a lot of the time, she finds herself trying to get extra work.

"We still need a lot more school days," she said.

A bill needing final votes aims to require a 180-day public school year, beginning next Fall.

"That doesn't go far enough because hours are apart of that equation," Education Committee chairman, Senator Norman Sakamoto said. "The bill also says the Department should work to increase the hours within the school day, more instructional time, we're not talking about adult time and working towards six hours of instructional time which would bring it to 1,080 hours per year."

Most states require a 180-day school year but in Hawaii, the academic year is set by bargaining with the teachers' union.

"I was shocked that Hawaii is the only state in the union that doesn't have minimum instructional days or hours," Sakamoto said.

Because of Furlough Fridays, this school year has been dwindled down to 163 days, the shortest in the nation.

"We're globally at the low end of student instructional time, so we need to do better," Sakamoto said.

Marshall says coming from the Mainland, her kids are used to longer school years and days.

"My husband's Navy and when we arrived here my children came from a school that met 195 days a year," she said. "They were able to do all their drilling in class, their projects weren't all standards-based and they really thrived."

Also in the bill, extending the school year to 190 days and adding more hours, starting in 2015.

The bill cleared a conference committee unanimously Friday night, but it still needs approval from the full house, senate and Governor Lingle.

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