Legislation would measure school year in hours, not days - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Legislation would measure school year in hours, not days

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WEST LIBERTY (KWWL) -

New legislation aims to change the way Iowa schools measure a school year from days to hours.

Iowa City teacher Katie Welter understands the value of maximizing time in the classroom.

"Hours in the classroom is important," Welter said. "That's where kids are learning."

New legislation expected to become law would force all school districts to meet 1,080 hours of instructional time each year.

That metric would replace the current requirement of 180 days.

State Rep. Joel Fry, a Republican from Osceola, said that metric is "making sure that we are optimizing or utilizing that we are maximizing time to the best of the teacher's ability for the student."

The new measure is also aiming to give school districts more flexibility with scheduling.

"It will give more local control back to school boards and school administration as they look at their school calendars," Fry said. 

West Liberty Community School District superintendent Steve Hanson said the changes would mean most schools can plan around sporting events and still take on weather delays without keeping school open later in the year.

"Most school districts are going to have a schedule with enough time that they can absorb that without adding on," Hanson said.

Many schools already meet the proposed standard, even with lunches and professional development time not counting under the new bill.

"It's more the norm that most schools have enough time in the school day that this new legislation will not make a significant difference," Hanson said. 

If passed into law, the legislation would go into effect July 1, 2014.

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