Say it isn’t so! A number of school districts have begun switching to a four day school week. While some children dream of snow days and holidays to shorten their school weeks, thousands of students can now celebrate having one less day of school each week.
Hundreds of school districts across the country have adopted a four day school week in hopes of preserving funds while also attracting teachers to the area. It’s estimated that approximately 560 districts within 25 states are allowing a Monday through Thursday week. (1)
While funding and enticing quality teachers to districts are among the intentions of change, making a four day school week work isn’t as easy as it may seem.
Districts Jumping On-Board For Short School Weeks
Colorado Brighton-based School District 27J is among the 560 districts to switch their school weeks from five to four days. Superintendent Chris Fiedler believes the shortened week will serve as enticing quality teachers while granting resources to items more critical to the districts principal purpose.
With the changeover, the Colorado district hopes to save around $1 million. With hopes of not having to pay substitute teachers, along with running school buses one less day each week, the district believes it can save around $70,000.
“We’re confident it’s going to attract teachers and keep them,” Fiedler said. “I haven’t had teachers say that this is a horrible idea.” (2)
In addition to funds and integrating quality teachers, the Colorado district suggests the four day week holds other benefits as well. The change will allow for support and time for teachers to reorganize, develop, and prep materials for lessons.
Since making the switch, teachers have reported enjoying the increase in free time. Stay at home parents report appreciating the convenience of being able to run errands and take their children to routine appointments during the off time. (2)
The Struggle of Shortened Weeks
But the change isn’t as exciting for everyone. Shortened school weeks can negatively affect low-income households. For those who may incur difficulties paying for childcare on days their children no longer have class, the shift is not as enticing.
Additionally, low-income students often tend to rely on public schools for more than half their meals a week including breakfasts and lunch. (3) With these changes, some officials worry about their overall well-being.
For some schools, comparing academic results between a full school week showed mixed results. Studies have not yet proven consistency when comparing academic results.
Making a Four Day School Week Work
While a three-day-weekend is an incredibly attractive deal to embrace, it isn’t one that comes easily. Before the decision for a shortened week can be made, district administration first must look into other options. Solutions such as personnel layoffs, increasing class sizes, reducing funding, or cutting specific programs are taken into account. (4)
Just because the school weeks are shortened, does not take away from the teachings provided. Remaining school days are required to be extended approximately an hour or so longer. This is to ensure the same amount of value in the teachings and courses is being delivered. The idea is for the kids to go to school for the same amount of hours, only through longer days and shorter weeks.
In most districts that have chosen to operate with shortened school weeks, teachers are still required to work one-half day of their newly added off-days each month.
Schools like Colorado’s Brighton district are confident that students will have access to higher quality lessons from the changes. Fiedler states, “We are 100% committed to providing our students with the necessary skills and competencies that will enable a future far beyond graduation. To that end, I believe it is in our students’ best interest to provide high quality, engaged teachers using 21st-century tools for learning four days a week rather than not have those five days a week.”