Four-Day Week Implemented in Rural Schools
With the school year starting for many in just a few weeks, a Colorado school district is trying out a four-day school week.
This action is saving the school district approximately 1 million dollars, specifically by running fewer buses and utility costs.
Located in Brighton, Colorado, School District 27J will start the four-day school week this year, stating that this change will create “clean, consistent, and concise schedule, give teachers and staff time to better prepare for classes and develop professionally, allows for the reallocation of funds.”
The change has also extended the hours students are in school the rest of the week, extending each day by 45 minutes. Elementary students will start their school day at 7:50 am and end at 3:30 while middle school and high school students will begin at 8:30 am and wrap up at 4:32 pm.
The reasoning behind this change is costs. “We are one of the lowest-funded school districts in the state of Colorado,” stated 27J Public Information Officer Tracy Rudnick to Yahoo Lifestyle. “Our teachers are paid very low wages compared to neighboring districts where they can make up to $10,000 a year more.”
The school district is also providing childcare on Mondays, costing $30 a day per a child.
Colorado is not the only state trying this new school schedule. Other states such as Montana, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Oregon rural area school districts have also lead the way in four-day school weeks.
Reactions to this national wide news are mixed. While many are excited about the prospect of fewer days in school, some have also expressed concern about the change.
.@JesseBWatters on four-day school weeks: “I want our students to be as competitive as possible globally because everyone’s fighting for talent and an extra day in school is great.” #TheFive https://t.co/WEKuPDvNNy pic.twitter.com/rmJyOawZXN
— Fox News (@FoxNews) August 16, 2018
The argument that American students wouldn’t be able to compete with EU students, however, isn’t clear. One third of French Primary schools currently operate in a four-day school week. Many other countries, including Finland, have a more relaxed approach and fewer hours in school. According to the Center of Public Education, Finland requires fewer hours in the classrooms than the United States but contains some of the highest performing schools in the world.
However, in terms of scholastic performance, there have been mixed results. Some school districts in Montana have seen consistent test scores in comparison to previous five-day school weeks, with others showing an increase in tests scores. Others have seen a decrease in test scores after the first years of embracing a four-day school week. But the Center of Public Education hasn’t lost hope in the process, saying four-day school weeks “can prove beneficial to achievement as well. The research isn’t definitive, but some districts that have tried this are seeing unintended benefits in the form of higher test scores, decreased disciplinary problems, greater collaboration among teachers, and higher morale.”
But beyond the benefits to the students, many are concerned about the impact this change will have on working families. Lower income families may be forced to pay for child care every Monday. Additionally, many lower-income students rely on public schools for breakfast and lunch during the week.
Going to a four day school week puts additional financial burdens on parents who must either miss work or hire their own educator for a day. Public schools may save millions, but we, the people, will lose far more in the longrun.
— Billie Ruth Furuichi (@bilichki) August 18, 2018
According to Paul T. Hill, a research professor at the University of Washington Bothell, who founded the Center on Reinventing Public Education, “the idea has proved contagious because adults like it: Teachers have more free time, and stay-at-home parents like the convenience of taking kids to doctors and doing errands on Friday. If local leaders are lucky, graduates of these schools won’t be any less well educated than their siblings who went to school all week. But, in an environment where young rural adults already suffer from isolation and low economic opportunity, the shorter school week could exacerbate their problems.”
While the data comes in, speculation continues. A four-day school week is only making small strides in the rural unfunded school districts, and whether this will become a nation-wide change is still to be seen.