Multimedia: Kansas education committee official proposes year-round education for public schools

Kansas House of Representatives are currently trying to pass a bill that would substantially change the way the Kansas school system has been operating for school year length.


Photo by Kyleigh Hrencher

Freshman Shayla McMickel sews up a sailboat project during her intro sewing class with Mrs. Mans on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Kyleigh Hrencher, Contributing Reporter

Children in the state of Kansas attend school for about 7 hours a day, around 35 hours each week, and 1,100 hours per school year. A newly proposed bill that is currently being discussed in the Kanas House of Representatives could extend the school year by 40% or in other words, around 11 weeks.

English teacher Amy Jensen feels the new bill would significantly impact teachers, students and even families in our Maize district.

House Bill 2224 essentially creates a legislative mandate of a year-round school calendar, which would have a direct impact on families’ ability to schedule meaningful time together. Other year-round school models in other states have been tried and failed because they do not accommodate the demands of a modern work/life balance,” said Jensen.

Bill Rhiley, a Wellington Republican and former teacher, introduced the bill at the beginning of February. The new bill would abolish 52 weekends, holidays, and end-of-term breaks. This essentially would force Kansas students to attend year-round schooling, around 1,600 hours per year.

Maize High freshman Tatyana Torres is unsure about why Rhiley would suggest adding more time to the school year.

“I don’t see any benefits really,” said Torres. “Honestly, I believe we should get more breaks than we already do. It would impact mental health and the suicide rate for teens.”

The Kansas Department of Education estimated if they increased any teacher’s salaries by just 1%, it would require an extra $36.6 million dollars to the educational budget. This does not include an additional 13.6%, or a $5 million dollar increase in Kansas teachers’ retirement system.


Video by Trinity Zamorano

Rhiley still believes that extending the school year would improve the student’s academic levels and their ability to become better citizens. It would make it so that teachers could begin the school year without having to spend weeks reviewing prior material learned in class.

“What is our true reason for teaching school?” Rhiley asked. “It is not to employ teachers. It is to figure out students to the point they’re good citizens and they’re working adults.”

Jensen feels strongly about the ramifications of passing the bill. She believes that the bill is forcing schools to do more with less. This includes increased expectations for student outcomes and not really having a true gameplan on how to compensate teachers, faculty, and administration for the extra time they are being asked to be in schools.

“This bill jeopardizes the fulfillment of the Gannon decision by the Supreme Court and significantly reduces the wages of educators. This bill significantly increases the school day and the workday. Both come with an added cost that this bill does not accommodate – the maker of this bill did not include any additional funding to pay for any additional costs to increase the school hours. Instead, there would be the continued expectation for schools to do even more with even less, but to produce even higher student outcomes,” said Jensen. “It takes more than just teachers to educate our students – administrators, transportation staff, clerical staff, custodial staff, support staff – including para-professionals, etc. I do not know of any profession where it is acceptable by society to ask employees to work more for less pay. Unfortunately, more educators will leave the profession entirely.”

Maize High English teacher Paityn Smith worries about more students calling it quits and dropping out of school altogether.

“The dropout rate would most definitely increase because most kids are already overwhelmed with the work we have today, and we would see more teachers quit than there already are,” said Smith.

We did attempt to reach out to Republican Bill Rhiley for comment on why he proposed the new bill, and he did not return multiple email attempts during the month of February and March to our reporter.