Four-day school weeks pose potential rewards

Schools+with+4-day+weeks+in+Missouri.+Photo+courtesy+by+El%C3%A9a+Gilles.

Schools with 4-day weeks in Missouri. Photo courtesy by Eléa Gilles.

Jordan Rogers

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Friday. Just this one word excites students for the weekend, but for some Missouri students this “Friday feeling” comes earlier.
Community R-VI, a small school district in rural Missouri, is in its second year of a revamped school year, removing Mondays from the school week to the delight of many attending.
“We have seen an overall increase in both student and staff attendance and morale,” said Cheryl Mack, the superintendent of the Community R-VI school district.
Missouri is one of 21 states that has districts operating on a four-day week, according to the National Conferences of State Legislatures. Some districts have been considering the change since January when Governor Eric Greitens’ (R) proposed budget cuts were passed, which reduces the state’s public school transportation budget from $105 million to $69 million.
CPS spends more than $12 million on transportation but is reimbursed for only $2 million by the state, district spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark told the Missourian. Baumstark said the district makes up the difference through its operating funds.
“Columbia is a little [more] unique than some of the other districts in that the majority of our funding comes from local dollars,” said Christine King, a member of the CPS school board. “So about 60-65 percent of our funding comes locally, and 30-35 percent of it comes from state funding. So any reduction of what we get from the state, although it can be significant, doesn’t have the same impact since the majority of our funding comes from local funding.”
King said one concern about switching to a four-day-a-week school schedule is the added time students would be in classes on any given school day. Harrisburg, for instance, which is a town about 18 miles from Columbia, has used the four-day week for a few years. They attend classes Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 3:42 p.m.
“The question is, will kids really pay attention if their in school for a longer period of time each day that they’re there, and I don’t know the answer to that,” King said. “We have not talked about this as a board. It hasn’t even come up in any conversations.”
Some schools nationwide started using four-day weeks in the 1930s and another resurgence of the movement began in the 1970s. Then in 2011 Gov. Jay Nixon (D) signed an optional four-day school week into law and changes the 174 days of instruction requirement to a total of 1,044 hours for districts that wanted to go to four days. Fifteen Missouri school districts currently have students attend four days a week, instead of five.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text][quote cite=” Christine King, CPS school board member.”]“The question is, will kids really pay attention if their in school for a longer period of time each day that they’re there, and I don’t know the answer to that, We have not talked about this as a board. It hasn’t even come up in any conversations.” [/quote]
For some students at RBHS, just the thought of four-day weeks brings excitement; however, sophomore DJ Baker sees some potential flaws.
“If you miss a day of school, then you miss a lot more because you don’t have the extra day to make school work up,” Baker said. “One of the reasons is that lunch is really expensive because they have to make lunch for over 1,000 kids, so after a while, I would think that gets kind of pricey.”
Although Community R-VI, which is in Audrain County, has faced budget cuts, Mack said the district changed to four days per week in an attempt to bring in applicants for job openings.
“Community R-VI is a small rural school surrounded by larger districts with a larger tax base. Therefore, our salary schedule made it difficult to attract applicants and then retain these staff members,” Mack said. “Switching to a four-day school week has given us a boost in both applicants and retention of current staff.”
The first four-day school district in Missouri was the Lathrop school district, a small town northeast of Kansas City. Their goal was to “allow for a consistent schedule and exemplary professional development for our staff,” according to the school district’s website.
“I personally [would like to switch to four days] because I barely have any time as it is as a student-athlete,” Baker said. “I can’t do anything outside of school because it eats up so much time, so if we had four days, I would use the extra time they add on to use to relax and not have to worry about school.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]