Governor Lincoln Chafee has signed a law allowing fewer school days in Rhode Island's public schools. The law requires any reduction in school days to be offset with an increase in class time. Still, supporters say, the move will provide more flexibility for school officials looking to reign in cost.
"We have to do anything we can to help schools stay on budget while still giving students the education they deserve,” said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Roger Picard, a Democrat representing Woonsocket and Cumberland in a written statement.
Woonsocket schools have faced significant deficits in recent years, contributing to a serious financial shortfall in the city, which is now under state oversight. Picard argues that a shorter school year would allow school officials to reduce the budget by cutting the number of days they must maintain open school buildings.
Currently, Rhode Island schools must provide a minimum of 180 days in every school year. The new law, when it takes effect January 1st, will allow them to open fewer days as long as they maintain the current amount of class time, estimated at 1,080 hours.
Districts taking advantage of the change must submit detailed plans for their new school calendars to the State Department of Education.