CINCINNATI — The Family Friendly Schools Act, a new bill introduced on Tuesday by California Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris, would keep 500 pilot elementary schoolsopen for ten hours each day in order to help working parents by aligning school hours with the normal work day.
The voluntary grant pilot program would give public schools money to operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day except federal holidays, weekends and emergencies. Many local parents said the extended hours would help them out when it comes to childcare.
"I'm trying my best to work and have my kids taken care of," parent Randole Burch said Thursday night.
Burch knows a thing or two about long days.
"I work the 12-hour shift from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.," Burch said.
He coordinates with two other parents to pick up their four kids from daycare and school. He said the schedule outlined by the new bill would do a lot to free up time.
"I would have a better chance to get my kids and not have to worry about, 'OK. I need somebody to pick them up. They canceled. OK, I don't know what to do,'" Burch said.
Many parents were curious about how extended school hours would work.
"It just depends on what they plan on doing with those extended hours," parent Retha Walker said. "Will it be more activities, sports, things of that nature? Will it be homework help, and how would the teachers be compensated?"
Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown is a co-sponsor of the bill. His office said those extra hours would be filled with academic and athletic enrichment opportunities coordinated with community partners. The extra staffing would be paid for with up to $5 million of grant money over five years. Teachers who agree to stay late would be paid overtime.
"I work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., so that would eliminate the need for me looking for childcare each year," Walker said.
Grant money from the Family Friendly Schools Act would also pay for summer programming.
No hearings for the bill have been scheduled yet.