Monday, October 06, 2008

Rural Iowa school districts seek four-day week

Several Iowa school districts are seeking a reprieve from the mandatory five-day school week, with rural districts leading the charge. High fuel costs and lower enrollment have squeezed rural districts' budgets, and now tough economic times create more pressure to lower costs.

“Being a rural district, we basically bus in 70 percent of our kids, and so transportation is a big expense for us,” Superintendent Mike Jorgensen of the Southeast Webster-Grand district tells Staci Hupp of The Des Moines Register. “Any time that we can shave 20 percent of our expenses in one of our larger expenditure categories, we have to take a look at it.” Education lobbyists also support the practice, saying it allows for new approaches to learning. State officials, however, worry that budget concerns may affect the quality of education. "I think people have to think through all the implications," says Judy Jeffrey, director of Iowa's Department of Education, "not just 'I need to save money on transportation.'"

Iowa requires a 180-day school calendar. Schools petitioning the state for an exemption seek to shorten the week by lengthening school days. (Read more)

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