New Texas law may mean longer school days

GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — Your children could have to sit in class a little longer, under a new law in Texas, and some parents are happy to hear about the change.

Public school districts in Texas are now keeping track of attendance by minutes instead of days, which could mean longer school days, instead of make-up days, if a class is canceled because of a snow day or teacher training.

Under the new law, districts must provide at least 75,600 minutes of instruction. The old law said students had to be in class at least 180 days of the year. Schools already have two make-up days built in to the year, but if they need extra days, they can now tack on time to a school day, instead of making students show up for another full day, like on a holiday.

“Kids deserve a break, so taking away their holidays they look forward to is a big thing. If you add time to the end of the day or the beginning, they won’t notice it,” says Georgetown ISD parent Leticia Van Houten.

“Parents have routines, they have jobs, they have places they’re expected to be at certain times, and certainly when you change the length of the school day or your calendar, you want to try not to surprise parents,” says Dr. Bryan Hallmark, executive director of campus leadership for Georgetown Independent School District.

Students in the Georgetown Independent School District had to make up a snow day on Memorial Day last year. The district says it gave parents about two months notice, and they say they’ll give them plenty of notice if a school day has to be extended this year.

Georgetown ISD has two make-up days scheduled for February 16th and April 25th. If they have to use those, then they say they will extend some of the school days by five or ten minutes.

This new law is crucial for students, parents and anyone who pays taxes to schools. If children miss the make-up days, it can cost a school district a lot of money. For example, Austin ISD loses about $45 per student, per day in state funding. That means if 30% of AISD students miss a make-up day, the district loses more than a million dollars.

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