Schools try 4-day weeks

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.”

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  1. Aren’t schools required to be open a particular number of days per year, 180 I think? I’m not sure who sets this requirement (fed or state), but don’t the receive funding dependent on those 180 days? Confused.

  2. Genevieve says:

    In our area, a district thought about switching to four day weeks, but they had to receive an exemption from the 180 day calender and the state wouldn’t give it to them.

    Districts were allowed to make up several snow days by adding time to the school day. I think this year my daughter only went to 176 days of school because of this.

  3. Tell Peach County it’s “laser-like” focus.

  4. In Georgia they changed the law to where school districts have to meet a certain number of hours as opposed to a certain number of days.

    The number of hours is based on a typical number of instructional hours in an 180 day schedule.

    For instance, secondary schools have to have 990 hours of instructional time in a school year. If a district can satisfy those hours in fewer than 180 days then the state will accept it.

    I’ve provided documentation if you click on my name, the breakdown is on pages 3 and 4.

  5. “are becoming popular across the U.S., reports AP.
    … one of more than 120 school districts”

    much like the marketing phrase “more and more” doesn’t mean “many” … 120 is less than 1%

  6. Raises the question of how effective schools are in general. Perhaps reducing class time to three days a week, or even less, would also have little effect on academics–especially if you offer the extra-curricular tutoring that Peach County has.

  7. Yes! It would be way cheaper just to cyberschool, even. We have the technology for detailed lessons by DVD as well. There are all kinds of ways to save money and combine ideas and work together with the community resources that are out there for children. 🙂

  8. Face it–the 4 day weeks are good for the teachers, not for the students.

  9. Michelle says:

    The 180 days are to ensure the students are doing academics for a specific number of hours so lengthening four of the days so that we get a three day weekend should meet that requirement. I know one summer, I worked at a child care that gave us the option to work 4 days, 10 hours each day. That was to make up for the fifth day.


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