HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A bill signed into law Tuesday requires 180 school days a year for 254 Hawaii public schools as the state tries to shed its reputation for having the least amount of instructional time in the nation. Lt. Governor James "Duke" Aiona signed the law, which was passed in reaction to the 178 instructional days for the 2009-2010 school year due to budget cuts.
"Hawaii is the only State in the nation that does not set by statute the minimum number of hours of instructional time a public school student should receive. Our families, principals and teachers deserve a public school system that ensures our students have the tools and classroom time needed to succeed" said Aiona.
Hawaii students attend class an average of four hours and 43 minutes per day, behind the five-and-a-half to six hours per day of instructional time in most states.
"We really do hope that we can make a difference because how can you say that quantity is not important. If you spend an extra hour a day reading a book, you are going to be a smarter person. You spend an extra hour a day in school, you're going to get better grades, you are going to know more. We are really hoping that this is going to be one of the keys that is missing," said Melanie Bailey, a concerned parent of two public school kids.
The 180-day minimum begins in the 2011-2012 school year affecting over 177,000 public school children. For the 2011 - 2013 school years, all public schools, except charter schools, will be required to have a 180-day school year. Elementary schools would be required to offer 915 hours; middle and high schools would have to offer 990 hours of instruction. In the 2013 - 2015 school years, all schools, except charters, must retain the 180 days and expand instructional time to 1,080 hours for elementary, middle and high schools.
Charter schools were not included in order to preserve their autonomy. Some Hawaii charter schools already have longer school days. As the current HSTA contracts expire this summer, further negotiations regarding union talks and funding will be discussed this summer.
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