You knew it was only a matter of time before budget concerns were going to impact the length of the school year. Hawaii responded to just that issue by reducing the school year from 180 days to 163.
Hawaii just may be setting a precedent that will be too hard for other school districts to ignore. At a time when schools are struggling to keep up and state budgets are getting hammered school districts are resorting to unusual measures to make ends meet. But reducing the school year (by 17 Fridays) has been off limits.
Hawaii is different than other states in the sense that the state government pays directly for education instead of self-supporting local school districts. In the Colorado school district where I live, for example, we recently passed a mill levy increase to raise teacher’s salaries and reduce classroom size. Hawaii doesn’t have that option.
The other interesting aspect of this story is that while the teacher’s union accepted a 8% pay cut they also received assurance of no layoffs for 2 years. Trading jobs for education is another dangerous precedent.
Nevertheless, the precedents have been set. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, particularly given the slow erosion of our education system performance as measured against other countries.