Wichita BOE approves lengthening school day and shortening year

Wichita Public Schools (KSN File Photo)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Two weeks ago, the United Teachers of Wichita voted in favor of shortening the school year to 175 days and lengthening the school day by 30 minutes.

Monday night, the decision was passed by USD 259 board members to finalize next year’s shortened school calendar.

This change in the school year calendar is going to save the district $3 million, and it’s also going to save hundreds of USD 259 jobs. Even though this issue has been discussed for months, there were still some concerns by board members up until the final vote.

“We’re ready to move forward,” stated Betty Arnold, USD 259 Board of President.

USD 259 employees and students will be seeing a shorter school year consisting of 15 less days starting this coming fall.

“That is the direction that we gave administration. We had the option we had some discussion about the area of the direction that we would like to go,” Arnold said.

In Monday night’s board meeting the motion to pass the new 2016-2017 calendar was finalized, but it didn’t come without some controversy, with some board members taking separate sides of the issue.

Board member Joy Eakins voted against the decision to approve the new calendar year, arguing that the shortened year would not be for the student’s best interest, because it would keep them out of the classroom for a longer period of time.

“One of the things that kept bothering me was the impact to a child’s education if we lengthen the day and take 15 days out of the schedule,” said Joy Eakins, BOE meeting.

“It was a difficult decision to put them in. many of them felt like they were having to choose one bad thing over another bad thing,” Joy Eakins explained.

Regardless of the difference in stances, the first and last days of the school calendar were determined.

The board agreed to start the 2016 school year August 24th and the last day will be May 17th, 2017.

USD 259 officials are still discussing the last bit of cuts that need to be made. $20 million in cuts have been finalized at this point, and the last issue on the chopping block is employee health insurance, which will make up for that $3 million dollar deficit that is still there.

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