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McKee bill increases school year by 30 days

March 08, 2006|by TAMELA BAKER

ANNAPOLIS - Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, worries that students forget too much over their summer breaks.

He worries that American students lag too far behind their Asian counterparts in math and science. And he's been noticing "a proliferation of requests for funding for summer educational programs."

One solution, he said, is lengthening the school year by 30 days.

McKee has introduced legislation to phase in the added class time over three years.

There's just one problem - cost.

According to the Department of Legislative Services, the first phase would cost local governments throughout the state a collective $449 million for 10 additional days.

The second phase would cost $924 million. By the final phase, the price tag would be $1.4 billion.

McKee presented the bill to the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday, but let former Allegany County Board of Education member and Frostburg State University professor Judith Thelen "do the hard sell on this piece of legislation."

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Thelen told the committee that teachers spend most of their time preparing students for standardized tests. She also noted that many parents work full time and would welcome longer school calendars.

And the current calendar, she said, "doesn't correlate to children's learning patterns."

But, she admitted, "It's very expensive."

House bill 954

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