NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – With New Mexico ranking at the bottom of the barrel in education for yet another year, state leaders are looking for solutions. One idea – adding time to the school year.

The idea is getting mixed responses. The Public Education Department said more time learning could be part of the answer to New Mexico’s student performance problems. Now, lawmakers are considering how that might work.

“I think that there are a lot of conflicting opinions about whether or not extending the school year is the best way to invest our money,” said the President of Albuquerque Teachers Federation, Ellen Bernstein.

The idea of more time in the classroom has teachers and parents wondering if it will solve the problem. “Learning is always the best thing but I know the time they come to school already, I think it’s enough,” said Yolanda Gallegos, a parent picking up her child from an Albuquerque middle school.

Currently, 1st through 6th grades have to go to school for at least 990 hours a year. For secondary students, it’s at least 1,080 hours. Right now, there are three proposals, two in the house and one from the governor’s office – all would add time to the school year.

All three proposals would increase the school year to 1,140 hours. For younger students that’s an extra 150 hours or five weeks. For older students, that’s 60 more hours or two weeks. Bernstein said for that to work, teachers would also need more prep time.

“As a person who works with all educators, extending the time for kids has to include time for adults. That is where the change comes from and that would make it the most positive benefit for students,” said Bernstein.

Bernstein added she would favor a bill that devotes at least 60 of those hours to the teachers. Rep. Joy Garratt, a sponsor of House Bill 130 said her bill would do just that. “The other things that’s [sic] unique to it and different from the LFC is that there’s [sic] 60 hours of embedded professional development and collaboration time for teachers. It’s not on top of the 1,140, it’s held within,” Rep. Garratt said.

Meanwhile, House Bill 194 and the Governor’s proposal would reserve the 1,140 for class time and add 80 hours on top of that for professional work time. The time could be used for planning, parent-teacher conferences, collaboration, and more.

Under the proposals, schools would decide whether to add a few extra minutes to the end of the school day or tack the days onto the end of the year. It would be applied to all public schools.

Rep. Garratt’s bill passed its first committee. Each proposal would cost more than $300 million.