Do students go to school too long? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Do students go to school too long?

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February 2, 2007

Albany - - Your children may soon attend school less than they currently have to. Two Georgia lawmakers want to give school districts the authority to reduce the number of days students have to attend classes.

The proposal is getting mixed reaction from school officials and the business community.  Students in Georgia attend school for 180 days. It's the law. But is that too long? Some lawmakers say it sure is.

Your child goes to school five days a week. 180 days equal one school year. In House Bill 262, Representative Charles Martin of Alpharetta and Representative Ron Stephens of Garden City want to give school districts the opportunity to change the length of the school year to 170 days. It would allow more time for summer fun.

"It's a two-sided issue. It's very challenging and I'm sure that the legislative delegation is going to weigh that heavily," says Sara Underdown with the Albany Chamber of Commerce.

She says the chamber supports a study of pushing back the date students return to school because it allows families more time to enjoy summer vacation. The representatives' proposal to reduce the school year would have the same effect, though the Chamber hasn't taken a stand on that issue.

"Obviously we want families to travel more, because that does mean more for our economy. Tourism is the number two industry for the state of Georgia," she says. 

School officials say no matter how you look at it, it won't work.

"We tend to have more children from poverty families which tend to lead to more students not passing examinations or not passing CRCT," says Dougherty County Schools
Finance & Operational ServicesDirector Robert Lloyd.

He says already too many students need remediation and attend school longer to make the grade. Cutting the days of instruction he says is out of the picture.

"I don't believe we would. We have a lot of issues trying to meet No Child Left Behind legislation at this point and time and to try to cram that into 170 days instead of 180 I don't think we can recommend."

At the end of the day, it would be up to school staff to recommend the idea to their school boards. If the bill becomes law, school districts will be able to choose between the 170 or 180 day options.

Even if a school district chooses to shorten the school calendar, it will still have to make sure the same amount of information is being taught that was previously taught during the 180 days of school.

Representative Stephens also sponsored a bill a few years ago that suggested schools can't start before the last week in August. That bill did not pass.

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