A school day that mirrors the workday: that’s the concept behind a new bill introduced by Democratic presidential candidate and Senator Kamala Harris.
Introduced on Wednesday, the Family Friendly Schools Act would give schools the funding needed to stay open at least from the beginning to the end of the typical workday.
“Most schools close at or around 3 p.m., two hours short of the standard full-time workday,” the bill reads. “… If families pay out of pocket for child care to cover the excess school closure days and the hours between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., it would cost an average of $6,600 per year, or 9% of an average family’s income.”
Schools that adopt what the bill calls “Family Friendly School” policies would remain open at least from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday or other hours depending on what is most appropriate for the community. Federal holidays would remain an exception.
Not only that, these schools would remain open on this schedule through the summer to continue offering children a safe place to be while parents or guardians are at work.
“My mother raised my sister and me while working demanding, long hours,” Harris said in a news release. “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 child care on working families. It is time we modernize the school schedule to better meet the needs of our students and their families.”
If passed into law, the Family Friendly Schools Act would award up to $5 million in grants over the course of five years to districts that make the change at schools serving a high number of low-income families.
Those grants would also only be available to districts that accomplish this without increasing the amount of time teachers and staff have to work unless those employees choose to work additional hours.
The bill is also sponsored by U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Richard Blumenthal, Jeff Merkley, Sherrod Brown and Michael Bennet.