Sen. Kamala Harris introduces bill to extend regular school hours

Posted at 6:41 PM, Nov 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-07 00:03:11-05

California Senator Kamala Harris introduced legislation Wednesday that could keep certain elementary schools open longer than normal.

Harris introduced the Family Friendly School Act with the purpose of aligning school day hours with the work day to help support working families when it comes to after school childcare.

The proposed bill seeks to award school districts five-year grants of up to $5 million to keep elementary schools open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the school year.

There would be no closures except for federal holidays, weekends and emergencies.

Harris says one of the motivating factors behind the proposed bill is to support low-income working families.

The Family Friendly Act is part of a pilot study that could impact 500 schools nationwide and require the Department of Education to publish and disseminate the findings of the act during the five-year period.

Esmeralda Paz says her sister attends Miller Elementary School in Santa Maria and she sees how this could help working families but fears the days might be too long for children.

"I think it is positive on one hand because the kids won't be picked up until 6 p.m. and there are people that work late, like those in the agricultural fields, but I also think it could have negative impacts due to how long kids will be at school," Paz said.

In a statement, Sen. Harris said, "My mother raised my sister and me while working demanding, long hours. So I know firsthand that, for many working parents, juggling between school schedules and work schedules is a common cause of stress and financial hardship. But this does not have to be the case. My bill provides an innovative solution that will help reduce the burden of childcare on working families. It is time we modernize the school schedule to better meet the needs of our students and their families."

While Harris said the bill aims to tackle the economic challenges families face by having school get out at regular hours, some are on board while others are still skeptical.

Another part of the proposed bill would allocate $1.3 billion annually for 21st Century Learning Centers to allow 1.8 million more kids access to summer holidays.