University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

News From The Capitol: February 4, 2015

In AR Legislature on February 4, 2015 at 5:32 pm

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This morning the Senate Committee on Education voted in favor of bills related to vacation and inclement weather policies for K-12 public schools.

Vacation Days

Senate Bill 160 would amend the law for 12-month schools to allow a maximum vacation period of seven weeks rather than six weeks. Sen. Jim Hendren presented the bill, sponsored by Sen. Cecile Bledsoe, and explained that the option to offer a seven-week break gives “year round schools” the flexibility to align activity schedules with schools on other calendars. SB 160 now moves to the House education committee for consideration.

Inclement Weather

Senate Bill 180 is designed to give school districts some leeway in determining whether to declare an inclement weather day. Sen. Eddie Joe Williams described the difficulty of deciding in the very early morning whether to call off school before road conditions for buses can be assessed. SB 180 would give superintendents up to five school days per year to delay start time or to dismiss school early without losing a credited school day. The Senate education committee approved the bill, which moves on to the House education committee’s agenda.

School Choice

Senate Bill 179 would update the current law on school choice that will expire June 30, 2015. Now in the fiscal impact review process at the Bureau of Legislative Research, SB 179 will be discussed in committee in the near future. Find out what the data say about the issues related to school choice in OEP’s newest policy brief, “Impacts of the School Choice Act of 2013.”

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