Arizona lawmakers push for longer school year, plans would give more funding to schools

PHOENIX - Students could spend more days in the classroom under proposed plans that, lawmakers say, aim at improving test scores.

Lawmakers want to make it easier for individual schools to add 20 days to their school calendars.

Right now, most schools are in session for 180 days. However, districts already have the option to move to an extended calendar..

Under the new plan, individual schools could vote to move to an extended calendar, even if other schools in the district remain on the current schedule.

State representative Paul Boyer (R-District 20) co-authored the bill and hopes educators and parents will help school's decide whether or not to move to an extended calendar.

Schools who move to an extended calendar would all receive a 3-percent increase in funding, he said.

Currently school districts that opt for a 200 day calendar get five percent more funding. Under the new plans, schools would receive eight percent.

Boyer said Balsz School District, who adopted an extended school year five years ago, is a success story. He said the school has increased its overall grades in math and reading, which he attributes to more class time.

Some who spoke in opposition of the plans worried about how the funding would work.

A study committee has formed to explore the idea as the bills move forward.

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