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Senator Sherrod Brown on board with schools staying open longer

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The Family Friendly Schools Act would allow a school to be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. to help with parents' work schedules

(WKBN) – A new bill was introduced Thursday, proposing schools stay open for 10 hours a day. Classes would not be in session past the normal time, this would just be an option for kids whose parents work later.

This is to help line up school days with workdays, making it easier on working families’ schedules.

The idea comes from Democratic Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris.

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown said he is behind the proposal called the Family Friendly Schools Act. If passed, schools would start at 8 a.m. and then would remain open until 6 p.m. to allow kids to stay in order to fit their parents’ schedules.

“A lot of parents’ work responsibility don’t fit into that time schedule,” said Phil Butto, a retired math teacher and president of the Mahoning County Retired Teachers Association.

Robert Mehno, from Leetonia Schools, said his school is already a year ahead of this bill.

Last fall, he started a noninstructional program before and after school to accommodate working parents. After one year, the school’s attendance rate is up 5%.

“Why are students not coming if they’re not coming? Is it because of transportation problems? Is it because no one’s home for the bus, with the parents? So we looked at that and collected data on all those things,” Mehno said.

Butto said this proposal will need to come with a lot of funding. To him, it’s only worth the money if it improves teaching time for students.

“Does that mean kids are provided breakfast? Are they provided lunch?” Butto said. “If it’s not going to improve instruction, then I don’t know that it becomes a valuable tool or asset to the kids.”

Sen. Brown is one of five senators who immediately got behind the bill.

“We know the school day does not align with work schedules and how difficult it can be for working families to find and afford quality health care,” he said. “This voluntary program can help schools keep facilities open throughout the workday without forcing teachers to work longer or for less pay.”

The plan by Sen. Harris is to try this with 500 elementary schools across the country. Each school will have an option to participate and it will be paid for by federal grants.

Editor’s note: This story is corrected to clarify that not all students will have to stay at school for 10 hours a day and this would not be for class time, but for kids who need care because their parents are working.

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