Friday, March 24, 2017

Rural school districts, especially in Mountain West, continue shift to a 4-day school week

More rural school districts across the U.S. continue to gravitate toward a four-day school week to combat costs and enrich extracurricular development for its students. According to The Atlantic, "the trend has been increasingly popular in the Mountain West region of the country, with 88 districts in Colorado, 30 in Oregon and nearly half of all school districts in Montana shifting to a four-day week." Last year, a small school district in Texas and three school districts in Nevada switched to a four-day week, among others.

"Most of the programs implement a similar schedule, wherein students spend longer days in class Monday through Thursday with the start of their weekends on Friday," Perry Chiaramonte reports for Fox News. But education experts "theorize that the shorter weeks have no positive financial effect on the districts that implemented them."

Chiaramonte talked to Idaho's Boundary County School Supt. Gary Pfleuger, who says that although the four-day week system has been in place for over 10 years, he has mixed feelings about its effectiveness. "There has been a substantial cost savings, but this mostly fell on the backs of our classified employees (lunch, bus, custodial),” Pflueger told him. “Standardized test scores have not shown a significant change due to the change.”

Boundary County is one of 43 Idaho districts that has implemented the four-day school week, which gives them 29 three-day weekends, Chiaramonte writes.

Some districts have seen better-than-expected results after switching to the schedule. "In Newcastle, Okla., the school district, along with nearly 100 others in the state, switched to the shorter week after a $1.3 billion budget crisis," Chiaramonte writes. "Last month, Gov. Mary Fallin urged in her recent State of the State address that schools need to have students in class five days a week, but Newcastle School Supt. Tony O’Brien disagreed, saying that the plan has helped to soften the blow of state budget cuts."

O'Brien told Chiaramonte that his district has saved on substitute teacher costs because teachers don’t have to take a day off for appointments. He also estimates that Newcastle "would save 1 percent to 2 percent of their budget, but they are probably ahead of that figure," Chiaramonte writes.

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