NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Kids in New Mexico may soon be spending more time in school. A bill that would extend class time cleared a major hurdle Tuesday, Mar. 7, inching its way closer to the governor’s desk.

House bill 130 sailed through the house Tuesday with no opposition. Its sponsors expect to see it cross the finish line. “I’m optimistic. It’s a good solid bill. It has support from superintendents and districts around the state,” said bill co-sponsor, Rep. Joy Garratt (D-Bernalillo).

Rep. Garratt believes this is a step in the right direction for New Mexico’s education system. Right now, first through sixth-grade students go to school for at least 990 hours a year. For secondary students, it’s at least 1,080 hours. House bill 130 would bump them all up to 1,140 hours. For younger students, that’s the equivalent of five more weeks. For older students, that’s an extra two weeks.

Rep. Garrat mentioned that more than half of the school districts in the state have already met the requirement. Schools could choose whether to use some of that time specifically for teachers, like parent-teacher conferences. “The other thing that I really like about this bill is that 60 of those hours can consist of educator professional development,” said Rep. Garratt.

Districts would also get to decide for themselves how to divvy up the extra hours, whether by adding time to each school day or tacking the days onto the year. The bill now needs to make its way through the senate before heading to the governor’s desk.

A similar bill that would have mandated an even longer school year has not made any progress in the legislature. The session ends on March 17.