Four-day school weeks are becoming popular across the U.S., reports AP.
Peach County (Georgia) is one of more than 120 school districts across the country where students attend school just four days a week, a cost-saving tactic gaining popularity among cash-strapped districts struggling to make ends meet. The 4,000-student district started shaving a day off its weekly school calendar last year to help fill a $1 million budget shortfall.
It was that or lay off 39 teachers the week before school started, said Superintendent Susan Clark.
Test scores are up, as is attendance for both students and teachers. Clark expects the graduation rate to top 80 percent for the first time in years.
The four days that students are in school are slightly longer and more crowded with classes and activities. After school, students can get tutoring in subjects where they’re struggling.
On their off day, students who don’t have other options attend “Monday care” at area churches and the local Boys & Girls Club, where tutors are also available to help with homework. The programs generally cost a few dollars a day per student.
Although there’s little data, the four-day week doesn’t seem to hurt academics, said University of Southern Maine researcher Christine Donis-Keller.
Some districts report students who get a three-day weekend are less tired and more focused. But others say students need more time in class.
Rural districts were the first to adopt the shorter week to cut students’ commute times. Georgia, Oklahoma and Maine now let districts count their school year by hours rather than days, AP reports. To save money, Hawaii schools were closed every other Friday this year — without a longer school day.
Peach County will stick with the four-day week, which saves $400,000 annually. Teachers like the extra preparation time, Clark said. “They don’t have kids sleeping in class on Tuesday,” she said. “Everything has taken on a laser-light focus.”