ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – We’re getting a better idea of just how different school is going to be for kids across the state this year after lawmakers increased the amount of time kids in all grades are required to be in class.
From getting rid of early release to later start times for high school students, New Mexico school leaders told lawmakers Thursday about the changes that’ll add weeks to the school year for some.
“The K3 Plus program turned into the K5 Plus program, and last year you all passed House Bill 130 which established the K12 Plus program,” said Tim Bedeaux, senior policy analyst for the Legislative Education Study Committee.
That program mandates more instructional time in classrooms—a minimum of 1,140 total hours for all students, adding 60 to 150 hours extra hours depending on grade.
“On average, schools are adding about 93 hours in elementary school in the five-day school weeks, or about three and a half days of school time next year…Secondary schools on five-day calendars are adding about 11 additional hours compared with last year or about one and a half additional days,” Bedeaux says.
For schools on four-day weeks, elementary kids are getting 98 more hours in class on average; middle and high school students are getting 41 more hours. The bill also mandates at least 180 days of class for schools on a five-day week and at least 155 for schools on a four-day week.
“60 percent of the students are adding between one week and two weeks of school and then there are students who are far above that and students who are below that as well,” Bedeaux says.
Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) says the new requirements mean big changes for this coming school year: “When we did a comparison about what we did in the ’22-’23 school year versus what we will be doing this school year, we had multiple start and end dates for our schools. And now, we’ve moved to having one start date and two end date for our schools,” says Channell Segura, chief of schools for APS.
They’re also moving all schools to the same grading schedule, getting rid of ‘early release Wednesdays,’ and adding seven development days for teachers.
Belen Consolidated Schools offered some perspective on concerns they have. “We like the ability to develop a calendar that meets local needs. Concerns that we have, and this is all employees who are working additional days aren’t being funded. That’s where participating in the K5 Plus pilot helped us,” said Lawrence Sanchez, superintendent of Belen Consolidated Schools.
APS says high school students in the district are getting a later start time for school and students are returning to school a week earlier than usual this year on August 3rd. Teachers and staff with APS are heading back to school on Monday. Under the new calendar, Summer and Fall breaks will be shorter and Spring and Winter breaks will be longer.