House voucher plan could allow for four-day school week in Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It was a brief comment in what was otherwise a marathon hearing.

“It gives them more flexibility of maybe going to a four-day week,” Rep. Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka) said in a House Government Operations Committee Monday.

The Tennessee House and Senate still have a long way to go in rectifying the differences in their respective education voucher scholarship proposals.

But one interesting part of the House proposal, it could allow for a four-day school week.

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“That fifth day could be where kids go and do job-embedded training or do their dual-enrollment classes,” Cepicky said to WKRN News 2 Tuesday.

The state currently requires its districts to complete 180 days of “classroom instruction” each year. Each day is counted as 6.5 hours.

“The number one community is probably Sevier County because they want to start after Labor Day,” Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) said. “But if they do, then they go into summer, and the workforce are the high school students.”

The idea isn’t exactly to just switch to a four-day week. Instead, it’s to allow that fifth day for something like career or technical education while teachers could have a planning day.

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“We’re not talking about increasing the class day by 15 minutes, where they’re just going to sit around,” Cepicky said. “If it’s a meaningful choice that they’re making for an outcome that they’re looking for in Tennessee, which is better outcomes for our kids, better opportunities in high school, better opportunities in college, then I think that’s something we need to seriously consider.”

House Democratic Caucus Chair John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville) said he’s for local control, but he warned against possible consequences of such a move.

“You’re going to have to expand the school day, which will cut into extracurriculars, possibly sports or other club activities, or go longer in the school year,” Clemmons said.

Of course, Democrats are also staunchly against the entire voucher scholarship bill, and slammed Republicans for dangling a four-day school week as bait for the rest of the bill.

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“They throw things out there like ‘four-day school week,’” Clemmons said. “I mean, that sounds great to everybody, but there’s another side to that.”

The bill still has a long way to go, as the Senate has its own proposal it refuses to budge on.

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