School districts across the state will measure their time in hours, not days, under legislation that passed out of the Iowa House on Wednesday.
Under the proposal, a school year would have a minimum length of 1,080 hours. The exact configuration of those hours would be determined by the local school board.
A school year is currently defined as 180 days.
The bill had overwhelming support in the House, passing 84-16, with all the “no” votes coming from Democrats.
Retired teacher Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, was one of the “no” votes. She worried about school districts adopting longer days and a school year that might not go for 180 days to save money.
“I don’t see that as in the best interest of kids, so when I look at the unintended consequences of a bill like this, I get concerned because I know how cash-strapped districts are,” she said. “I know they are looking for ways to save dollars and, if this is one of them, I fear they will go that route even though it might not be in the best interest of kids.”But supporters said the measure gives school districts more control to work out a schedule that works best in their communities. It also mirrors legislation that’s contained in the Iowa Senate’s education reform package.