Should Districts Decide How Many Hours Students Attend School?

Racine Unified
Photo by Keith Kohlmann

Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) state budget would allow most school districts to decide how many hours students attend school rather than having the state impose a minimum requirement.

The rule change would apply to students enrolled in private voucher schools and public schools, according to a story by the Journal Sentinel.

Under current law, Wisconsin calls for 437 hours for kindergarteners, 1,050 hours for elementary schools and 1,137 hours for secondary schools. Walker’s budget would focus more on how students are performing on Department of Public Instruction report cards, which includes a heavy emphasis on standardized test scores.

“For us, it’s about eliminating the mandate. I want to give maximum flexibility to districts,” Walker told the Journal Sentinel.

But others say the rule change goes to far and it would hurt struggling school districts.

“What happens if you have a year when budgets get tight?” asked Dan Rossmiller, director of government relations for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards. He said the minimum hours requirement is a floor, not a ceiling.

The Racine Unified School District 2015-2016 Report Card showed that overall the district is failing. Of the 19,494 students that attended the 2015-2016 school year, the district had 17.4 percent of those students with disabilities, 60 percent economically disadvantaged students and 11.5 percent that are limited English proficient.

Racine Unified School District Report Card

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Denise Lockwood
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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.