Wichita school year gets longer, days get shorter


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Summer is about to get cut short. USD 259 schools will add 15 days to the school year. It’s a move that allows schools to let out 20 minutes earlier and push back the start times by 10 minutes.

“So, we shortened the calendar day and made the school day longer. So now, we are making the school year longer and the school day shorter,” explains Shannon Krysl, Chief Human Resources Officer with USD 259. “We moved to the current calendar to save money during the budget crisis.”

But part of what school leaders called a budget crisis, and consequent savings by changing the calendar, is no longer an issue. That is because the school district is getting back between $20-27 Million from the State of Kansas under last year’s movement by lawmakers in Topeka.

That means the school can add money back into the budget where the savings were happening. Krysl says they saved between $2-3 million a year by shortening the school year. The savings came from fewer days of transporting students, and much less in the way of utilities to keep the doors open the extra 15 days.

But, those 15 days are going back on the calendar. And school will let out earlier and start later.

Some parents are happy.

“The longer day, it took me a while to adjust. It interferes with work schedules and activities sometimes,” says Estella Parga, a parent at Horace Mann elementary. “And, it’s something we all adjusted to. But it could be tough sometimes.”

Parga eventually adjusted to the earlier start times as well. But, she says, a 10 minute later start next year will make a big difference for her and other parents.

Krysl says that the longer school year with shorter school days is a direct move to do what some parents were asking for this year.

“We have had stake holder meetings, and we are listening about the change in the calendar year,” says Krysl about the move to now change back to the longer school year with shorter days. “And there were some unintended consequences. the longer school day made for a very late dismissal for our elementary schools. Made it hard on families. Some teachers had a hard time getting to their daycare.”

Krysl says some teacher who left the district cited the longer school day as part of the reason they left.

So, the district is switching back. It’s a move approved contractually by the teacher union. The school board voted, unanimously, to go back to the old calendar. It begins next school year.

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