(1) In addition to waivers authorized under RCW 28A.305.140
, the state board of education may grant waivers from the requirement for a one hundred eighty-day school year under RCW 28A.150.220
to school districts that propose to operate one or more schools on a flexible calendar for purposes of economy and efficiency as provided in this section. The requirement under RCW 28A.150.220
that school districts offer minimum instructional hours may not be waived.
(2) A school district seeking a waiver under this section must submit an application that includes:
(a) A proposed calendar for the school day and school year that demonstrates how the instructional hour requirement will be maintained;
(b) An explanation and estimate of the economies and efficiencies to be gained from compressing the instructional hours into fewer than one hundred eighty days;
(c) An explanation of how monetary savings from the proposal will be redirected to support student learning;
(d) A summary of comments received at one or more public hearings on the proposal and how concerns will be addressed;
(e) An explanation of the impact on students who rely upon free and reduced-price school child nutrition services and the impact on the ability of the child nutrition program to operate an economically independent program;
(f) An explanation of the impact on employees in education support positions and the ability to recruit and retain employees in education support positions;
(g) An explanation of the impact on students whose parents work during the missed school day; and
(h) Other information that the state board of education may request to assure that the proposed flexible calendar will not adversely affect student learning.
(3) The state board of education shall adopt criteria to evaluate waiver requests under this section. A waiver may be effective for up to three years and may be renewed for subsequent periods of three or fewer years. After each school year in which a waiver has been granted under this section, the state board of education must analyze empirical evidence to determine whether the reduction is affecting student learning. If the state board of education determines that student learning is adversely affected, the school district must discontinue the flexible calendar as soon as possible but not later than the beginning of the next school year after the determination has been made.
(4) The state board of education may grant waivers authorized under this section to five or fewer school districts. Of the five waivers that may be granted, two must be reserved for districts with student populations of less than one hundred fifty students, and three must be reserved for districts with student populations of between one hundred fifty-one and five hundred students.
Finding—2009 c 543: "The legislature continues to support school districts seeking innovations to further the educational experiences of students and staff while also realizing increased efficiencies in day-to-day operations. School districts have suggested that efficiencies in heating, lighting, or maintenance expenses could be possible if districts were given the ability to create a more flexible calendar. Furthermore, the legislature finds that a flexible calendar could be beneficial to student learning by allowing for the use of the unscheduled days for professional development activities, planning, tutoring, special programs, parent conferences, and athletic events. A flexible calendar also has the potential to ease the burden of long commutes on students in rural areas and to lower absenteeism.
School districts in several western states have operated on a four-day school week and report increased efficiencies, family support, and reduced absenteeism, with no negative impact on student learning. Small rural school districts in particular could benefit due to their high per-pupil costs for transportation and utilities. Therefore, the legislature intends to provide increased flexibility to a limited number of school districts to explore the potential value of operating on a flexible calendar, so long as adequate safeguards are put in place to prevent any negative impact on student learning." [ 2009 c 543 § 1.