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Texas districts push to extend the school year

February 13, 2019

AUSTIN — Texas lawmakers are thinking about giving school districts money to lengthen the school year, and superintendents are for it.

Per a recommendation from the Texas Commission on Public School Finance in December, lawmakers are mulling whether to offer to help pay for 30 extra instructional days in the school calendar. The state would pitch in half the cost of each school day, amounting to $50 million per day in the first year, according to the commission’s report.

Several superintendents testified before the House Public Education Committee that the investment would be worth it because the additional time gives struggling students, including those from low-income backgrounds, more time on task and would help them to learn to read at grade level. In Texas, just four in 10 students read at grade level by third grade.

“We’re not keeping our students long enough throughout the year,” Dr. Xavier De La Torre, a superintendent in El Paso, told the committee on Tuesday. He represents the state’s largest school districts for the Texas Urban Council of Superintendents, including Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Fort Worth. “So any resources that would allow us to continue the school year into the summer — not a summer school program or an enrichment program — would benefit these students.”

Texas now requires at least 75,600 minutes of instruction, about 180 days seven-hour days.

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