Districts try 4-day weeks to save money

Monday is not a school day in Peach County, Georgia, which moved to a four-day school week in the fall to save money. Several other Georgia districts may follow suit.

Peach County officials have estimated a savings of $313,000 in transportation and utilities costs, as well as fewer disciplinary actions and teacher absences as a result of the four-day week.

Pleasantville, Iowa plans to try a four-day week for three months next school year.  The Tuesday through Friday schedule will be extended by 30 minutes a day throughout the year, making up for the 12 lost days.

School officials expect to carve out at least $24,000 from keeping thermostats low, buildings dark, buses parked and cafeteria ovens off for Mondays in January through March – the coldest months of the school year. The district’s operating budget is about $5 million.

Nearly one in seven school superintendents is considering a four-day week, according to a survey by the American Association of School Administrators.

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  1. Homeschooling Granny says:

    Anything in these statements about the expected impact on teaching and learning? What is to be accomplished in that extra half hour at the end of the day?

    Where will the children of employed parents go on Mondays? Are there facilities for them? Will low income families need assistance to pay for day care? If there isn’t enough space elsewhere, could they use the schools for day care? 😉

  2. Yeah, having all those unsupervised kids hanging at the mall (or some other problematic venue) all day on Monday is certainly not going to lead to any problems… at least not any on school property.

  3. Math Teacher says:

    Which brings us back to the principal purpose of public education: “free” daycare.

  4. Which customers are served by 4 day a week schooling? The parents? The children?

    No, just the district and the teachers who get 3 day weekends. (funny, they didn’t pick Wednesday as the day off.)

  5. Who is served? The taxpayers. Maybe the elected school board for saving money and the super. Long weekends are nice, but you’re still responsible for delivering the same amount of content, and the four-day week makes it harder. You can compensate by assigning a little more homework that day, but that’s problematic, too.

    What, the rest of society doesn’t want to be with kids all day? What’s up with that? Teachers have it easy! If we can do it, certainly the mall can.

  6. Judge Crater says:

    notice the 4-day work week doesn’t result in lower teacher compensation?

  7. Something can’t be right about this. 1 Day of school is 6 or 7 hours. 30 minutes in 4 days is 2 hrs of those 6 made up. At a HS 30 minutes divided by 7 or 8 periods is about 4 minutes added to each class (i.e. NOTHING). You need to extend the school day by about 1.5 hours each day to make up a lost day.

    Also, Mondays or Fridays are picked so the heat in the building can be off for 3 days maximizing savings on heating.

  8. Mike, it seems the Iowa plan works like this: for three months, the schools will be closed on Mondays. => 12 days gone. 12 x 7 = 84 hours.

    All the other days the school is open, during the entire school year (168 days) will be 30 minutes longer. 168 days x 30 minutes = 84 hours.

  9. Judge: no, because the time in front of kids is the same. Attendence is measured in minutes, not days.

  10. Mike Curtis says:

    The four day week is all about saving logistics dollars. The buildings don’t have to be heated/cooled and the transportation doesn’t have to burn fuel or pay drivers. In order for this to be minimally effective, the buildings should be locked up on Mondays…extra curricular events (gym use) usually run later in the week. Furthermore, the facilities will be unavailable for other public use: night school, boy scouts, club meetings, etc.

    Teachers usually contract for a specific number of teaching days per year; not hours. As such, there is no such thing as overtime pay, as exists in the private sector, even though the administration dictates a regulated beginning and end to a normal “duty day.” Who among us would agree to one less work day per week (20% reduction) with a subsequent 20% pay loss, while simultaneously agreeing to an extended work day?

    The only thing served by this arrangement is the school district’s budget. Neither the educators nor the public is better served by this arrangement. Districts considering this kind of move have been cornered by rising expense and descending revenue. As such, something will have to give before collapse. Either raise revenue, or decrease service. If the public decides not to pay more, then the complaint about penalizing “customers” by forcing them to purchase more “day care” for their kids is rendered moot. They’re going to pay for day care one way or the other…at least the education system offers a return on the public investment.

  11. I live in Iowa (though not Pleasantville). A lot of the rural schools are facing additional money issues because they are facing decreased enrollments. Fewer students means less money from the state. My understanding is that the four day week is an effort to avoid merging districts. If it works out, more districts may try it out.

    There are some districts that are pretty big geographically, but don’t have a lot of students and they have very large busing costs. Four day weeks could save the districts a lot of money.

    There is a push in our state to switch from a required number of days in school to a required number of hours. This would allow for more flexibility. It might also change how many early outs there are for staff development and late starts because of weather (these don’t have to be made up like snow days).

    If you want to hear something that really doesn’t make educational sense. The state has allowed districts to make up snow days if they add on 30 minutes to the school day. Our district can only add on 10 before and after school because of city bus schedules. So they will add twenty minutes and then another ten from passing time or recess depending on the school.

  12. Using a shorter week makes sense, and I’m a person who is more interested in the quality of instruction, rather than the quantity (more seat time doesn’t mean you’ll produce a better product in the end).

    I would have to agree that public schools have become pretty much a concept of day care (you have no idea how many parents say they will be glad when their kid starts first grade).

    I would say a lot of the students will be hanging out at the mall, etc on the day off from school (be it Monday or Friday).

  13. >As such, there is no such thing as overtime pay, as exists
    >in the private sector, even though the administration
    >dictates a regulated beginning and end to a normal “duty day.”

    Not so fast. It’s true that some jobs in the US are eligible for overtime pay, but generally this is limited to hourly jobs. Salaried jobs don’t fit this category and overtime is a matter between employee and employer to work out. Over the last 30 years, I’ve had about 10 jobs in various technology companies and nearly all of them expected salaried employees to do whatever necessary to get the job done. If that meant a month of 60-hour weeks to meet a deadline, then so be it. Taking work home, working on a presentation or such over the weekend, responding to email requests while ostensibly on vacation and giving up your lunch time to attend an important meeting are all common activities among salaried employees in the US. In small startup companies, I’ve seen employees sustain 80-hour weeks for months at a time while attempting to get the company off the launchpad.

    As for the 4-day school week, my post above was trying to point out that leaving a 7th grader unsupervised for one day a week is like handing him a can of gasoline and a box of matches.

  14. Rob: I’m not disagreeing with you at all, but generally you’re working those 80 hour weeks because there’s the chance of a big payoff: the company succeeds and you’re vice president, or you get stock options when it goes public. I work 60 hour weeks and get…. the satisfaction of sacrificing myself For the Children. I love my job and I’m not complaining, just pointing out that the situation is different. And if I give up my 27-minute lunch, it’s another 3 hours before I can pee. Please, DUDE. Let me pee, for pity’s sake!

    And, to play devil’s advocate: he’s YOUR 7th grader. You figure it out. Why do you think the taxpayers are responsible for keeping him out of the police station while you’re at work?