Senate Bill 1239 — Flexible elementary student schedules

Senate Bill 1239 — Flexible elementary student schedules

by
Lindsay Atkinson
January 24, 2020
Lindsay Atkinson
January 24, 2020

Bill description: SB 1239 would allow certain, advanced elementary-aged students the opportunity to attend school with a flexible schedule.

Rating: 0

Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the US Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the US Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? 

Article 9, Section 1 of the Idaho Constitution mandates that the Legislature “establish and maintain a general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools.” One way to establish a thorough school system is to offer educational institutions, students, and parents the opportunity to use flexible schedules that most closely fit a student’s needs. SB 1239 would allow a flexible schedule for certain students in Idaho’s elementary schools. 

Specifically, students in kindergarten through third grade could receive a flexible schedule  if they are advanced in reading, writing, and mathematics. Students in fourth through sixth grade would qualify if they are “proficient in all subjects as determined by the most recent ISAT” or similar test. 

(+1)

But in providing this flexible schedule only to advanced elementary students, SB 1239 would contradict the mandate to provide a “uniform” system of schools. Students who are not advanced in the specified subjects could not enjoy this same flexibility.

(-1)

Analyst’s Note: 

SB 1239 requires even students who are granted a flexible schedule to attend school during at least 55% of the hours during which schools are normally in session. This means they may be gone up to 45% of the time, yet their schools will still be funded “as if the student were attending at the same rate as the average attendance of the other students in that school.” 

This funding route misses a great opportunity to redirect funding toward an enhancement of students’ education when they are not in a school building. For instance, instead of paying a school as if an absent student were fully attending, the Legislature could instead establish an Education Savings Account system whereby the money that represents the time students spend outside of school could be deposited and spent in a way that promotes learning on a flexible schedule.

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