Legislature Passes School Calendar Bill to Shorten School Year

On Tuesday, the Senate passed HB360, the Flexible School Calendar Act, that would restrict school districts’ start and end dates and convert the requirement for 180 instructional days into the equivalent annual instructional hours.

The bill has been sent to Gov. Bentley.

HB360 would prevent school districts from beginning their school year any earlier than two weeks before Labor Day and ending no later than the Friday before Memorial Day. Proponents of the bill make the case that it would raise revenue through tourism to save teacher jobs, however those claims are being questioned, according to this Birmingham News story.

Already, school districts around the state are discussing plans to shorten the school year by seven to 10 days, while lengthening each day by approximately 20 minutes. Montgomery Public Schools has introduced a plan to move to an 172 day school year. Mobile County Public Schools are considering a plan that would move to 170 or 173 days.

A+ policy director Thomas Rains wrote an op-ed opposing HB360 because it would harm student achievement and set back Alabama’s educational progress. On Tuesday, the Birmingham News and Mobile Press-Register ran a version of the op-ed that can be read on al.com. On Wednesday, the Montgomery Advertiser also ran the op-ed, and it can be read on the Advertiser website.

The Alabama Association of School Boards opposes the calendar bill based on the loss of local control for school systems across the state. Sally Howell, executive director of the Alabama Association of School Boards, wrote an op-ed for the Montgomery Advertiser that ran last Sunday.

Gov. Bentley indicated to the Huntsville Times that he has “strong reservations” about the bill because it takes away flexibility from local districts.