Some major changes in how our schools operate are being proposed in the state senate. Senator Matt Bartle’s bill is the first major education bill to come up this year and because of that he expects fellow senators to try to tack on their education proposals. His original bill does not require school boards to do anything. But he wants school boards to be free to redesign their school years.

One of Bartle’s ideas would let school districts have a year-around calendar instead of two semesters, nine months in and three months out. “For…all children…taking three months off in the middle of the calendar year has an incredibly harmful impact on their progress,” he says. Bartle does not propose any more days of class. But he says education will be improved if school boards broke up the amount of time away from school.

Another part of his bill would let school boards establish staggered start dates for children entering kindergarten. Bartle says studies show older kindergarten students can be 20 percent older than the youngest ones, which creates education inequities at the start of a child’s education career. His bill would let school boards allow some students to begin kindergarten in August or September and younger students to have four more months to mature before starting kindergarten in January or February.

Debate has just begun on Bartle’s bill. Several additional ideas are expected to be added before a final vote is taken.

Listen to Bartle on Senate floor 5:18 mp3