12th District Senator Brad Hawkins’ bill to add more days to the school year was seen by a Senate committee Thursday.

SB 5505 is a bill proposing to add five days to 180-day school year to address learning loss, totaling to 185 days.

If passed, this bill would go into effect on Aug. 1, 2023.

“I would love to see a model where we have approximately 200 state-funded days in the school year, frankly I would [...]” Hawkins said. “It's just surprising to me that the school calendar has become so commonplace that it largely goes unquestioned now, and we need to figure out a way where we can encourage school districts to spread their days.”

This bill was presented to the Senate Committee for Early Learning & K-12 Education, a committee Hawkins is a ranking member of and is cosponsoring the bill with committee chairwoman, 41st District Sen. Lisa Wellman.

22nd District Sen. Sam Hunt, who is also cosponsoring this bill, asked if North Central Washington was still needing the summer off for agricultural work. Hawkins replied stating that many junior and senior-level students work during the summer, however this change would affect all grades K-12.

Hunt referenced attempts made by districts in North Thurston and Olympia in implementing a balanced school calendar, but they received public backlash as a result.

“One thing we ought to do is maybe have somebody from North Thurston, and Olympia, and other districts who have tried to implement a balanced calendar [and] come explain just why it ran on the rocks,” Hunt said.

Tyler Muench with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Mike Hoover with the Washington State School Directors Association, and Dan Steele with the Washington Association of School Administrators all came to testify in support of this bill.

“We just want to make sure that all the I's are dotted, the T's are crossed, everything fits together and the funding is there,” Hoover said. “So [we’re] very supportive of the idea and thank the Senator for bringing it forward. ”

Jeannie Magdua with the Conservative Ladies of Washington came to testify against the bill, stating that it did not fully address the sheer amount of learning loss students were facing and was too general.

“I feel that adding a few extra days to the end of the school year would not begin to address the learning loss experienced by these poor kids who had their whole lives disrupted,” Magdua said. “It's too general and doesn't seek to find out exactly what each student needs to regain the learning that was lost.”

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Magdua suggested that funds be directed towards districts and create a fund for parents to use for private tutors instead of the extended calendar.

Julie Salvi with the Washington Education Association suggested pulling a couple statutes, recommending amendments to the transportation statute and the statute regarding teacher salaries.

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