FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The weather this winter has forced a lot of local schools to cancel classes far more often than usual, and leaders in those districts have thrown some wrenches in students’ schedules, trying to make up the time, while meeting the state’s 180 school day requirement.
The 180 day requirement became a state law in 1987. According to State Senator Jim Banks, former state representative, Jeff Espich of Markle, had a key role in getting legislation passed that year. It was part of then Governor Robert Orr’s education plan, called the A+ Program.
This winter, several school districts have extended the school day or assigned extra homework to make up the time with waivers approved by State Superintendent Glenda Ritz, and in turn, will go to school less than the required time this school year.
Lawmakers in the mid-1980s studied the state’s education requirements. Before the 180 day requirement was written into law in 1987, which also required schools were to make up lost days, lawmakers found out that Indiana high school graduates went to school the fewest number of days during their 13 years of school of all 50 states. Click here to learn more.
In 2014, the issue is still discussed between state lawmakers and school officials. The Indiana General Assembly would have to change the school day requirement with new legislation, if it wanted to move away from the 180 day requirement.
Banks, who serves on the Indiana Senate Education Committee, said the committee hosted about 25 school superintendents from across the state, with many coming from northeast Indiana. “It’s still a topic of conversation,” Banks said. “One of the aspects of the conversation is to move towards hours, rather than days, trying to quantify time that way.”
Banks said he thought most superintendents believed that this year’s weather was not normal, and drastic changes did not have to be made, and added that lessening the 180 day requirement would not hurt students’ education in the long term.
“We want kinds in the classroom more, not less,” Banks, a Republican from Columbia City, said. “Current policies insure that through the 180 day rule, which I believe is appropriate.”