More and more school districts across the US are embracing the 4-day school week.
For many students, going to school feels like a stressful job, much like their parents’—having to get up and go five days a week on a prescribed schedule.
There’s an emerging trend in the US, however, toward reducing the school week to four days. To save money and help with teacher recruitment, many school districts in the US have decided to give their students and employees Mondays off.
And more than 560 school districts in over 25 states have adopted the four-day week. Colorado, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Idaho, New Mexico and South Dakota are leading the trend, and their school districts comprise over half of the US total.
In Colorado alone, around 111 out of the state’s 178 school districts are already using the compressed schedule, according to The Colorado Sun reports.
Meanwhile, four-day scheduling started spreading so quickly across New Mexico that lawmakers have placed a moratorium on the practice until leaders can analyze its impact on student performance and working-class families.
But critics point out that the new trend can be tough on lower-income parents, who may have trouble paying for childcare on the days their children no longer have classes.
Also, low-income students rely on public schools for almost half their meals like breakfasts and lunches during the week.
Paul T. Hill, a research professor at the University of Washington Bothell who founded the Center on Reinventing Public Education, has argued that while some adults like the new schedule, this “troubling development” may end up hurting rural students.
Hill co-wrote in a piece published on the Brown Center Chalkboard:
“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 the off days]”
“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.”
Despite the critics, a truncated schedule does cut costs.
A recent report from the Education Commission of the States examined six school districts and found that switching to a four-day schedule helped them cut their budgets by 0.4 percent to 2.5 percent.
The report states:
“In the Duval [County, Florida] school district, moving to a four-day week produced only a 0.7 percent savings, yet that resulted in a budget reduction of $7 million. That $7 million could be used to retain up to 70 teaching positions.”
To ensure the same quality of teachings and courses, the remaining school days are extended an hour or longer. And many schools are confident students will get a higher quality lesson due to these changes.