Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Should Wisconsin drop 180-day school year requirement?

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Greg Peck
March 11, 2014

I'm not sure I'm sold on a measure that would end the requirement that schools no longer would have to teach 180 days of classes in order to retain state funding. An Associated Press story in today's Gazette says the Senate is expected to approve the measure and send it to the Assembly.

Now, schools must meet not just the 180-day requirement but an hourly quota to retain their state aid. The 180-day requirement has become an issue this winter, what with brutal weather so often forcing schools to cancel classes. Schools not building enough “snow days” into their calendars face having to extend the school year deeper into June.

Some spread-out districts up north, where buses burn much fuel making long trips and heating classrooms is especially expensive, support dropping the 180-day requirement. If, for example, they want to extend classes for more time each day and cut their total schedule to 170 days, they could do that and reduce busing and utility costs.

On the other hand, do you realize how hard it is to keep the attention of not just young kids but teenagers? How much more time can they spend in a classroom each day and still absorb lessons?

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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