Monday, September 22, 2008

As fuel stays pricey, more schools shorten week

Rising fuel costs have had a surprising consequence in about 100 localities in rural America: a shorter school week. Faced with high gasoline and diesel-fuel prices, running buses one fewer day each week is helping some school districts counteract the new costs.

Heather Sells of the Christian Broadcasting Network reports, "The four-day model has its roots in the energy crisis of the late 1970s. Today, the majority of the 17 states with four-day districts remain west of the Mississippi. Colorado has 57 districts. New Mexico has 21. And most of the districts are rural." The American Bus Council says that schools use than 800 million gallons of diesel fuel each year for 480,000 buses. With fuel costs almost twice what they were a few years ago, shortening the school week could have a significant impact.

Jenkins Independent Schools, on the Virginia border in Eastern Kentucky moved to a shorter week four years ago. Students now attend classes for seven and a half hours a day. The district initially adopted the schedule in order to consolidate teachers' planning time, but parents say the it helps their children as well. Laura Revis, who has children in the schools, says, "They have Mondays to prepare for bigger projects." Ellen Robinson, another Jenkins mother, says, "If they have doctors' appointments you can schedule them on Monday. It cuts down on absenteeism and they get a break." (Read more)

No comments: