Four-day school week pondered



January 21, 2010 - 12:00 AM

MORAN — Jeremy Boldra thinks USD 256 could save as much as $120,000 a year by going to a four-day school week.
Boldra, principal of Moran’s middle and high schools, addressed a crowd Wednesday night who came to learn of the district’s financial woes and their impact on students.
Boldra said savings could be realized in transportation, food service, classified salaries and energy costs.
“It wouldn’t amount to 20 percent, but it would be substantial,” he said, in quoting from experiences of several other Kansas districts. One, Dexter, has a 27-year history with four-day school weeks. In Kansas, 11 districts have four-day weeks and in Colorado 34 percent of districts do.
Boldra said the state’s minimum of 1,116 student-contact hours could be accomplished by increasing time in class by five to 10 minutes, a specific that would have to be worked out.
Test scores in schools with four-day weeks haven’t gone down and in some cases have improved, he said. Morale of students and staff has been affected in positive ways, with a frequent observation that students and teachers are more focused.
Attendance rates are better, Boldra said, and teachers report covering more material in longer classes on a four-day schedule. And, fewer substitute teachers are required.
“From Oct. 15 to Dec. 15 we had 70 subs,” Boldra said, a cost of $5,600 at $80 a day.
A concern, and a big one, said Patti Boyd, board president, is baby-sitting for younger students whose parents typically work five days a week.
“In the Haviland district they brought in the Red Cross one Saturday to give classes for baby-sitters,” he said. Also, if parents know well ahead of time what the school calendar is, they can make arrangements.
“A comment from Haviland was that everyone enjoyed having more time with family,” Boldra said.

IF USD 256 were to adopt a four-day week, Boldra said Friday would seem to be the day to take off.
“Monday traditionally is the most productive day academically, while Friday is the least,” because of the anticipation of Friday night ball games and students and staff looking forward to time off over the weekend, he said.
A four-day week could be worked in several ways, by rotating the day off from Friday to Monday and alternating four- and five-day weeks.
On this year’s calendar, Marmaton Valley schools are in sessions five days 25 of the school year’s 36 weeks, because of holidays and in-service sessions.
Boldra also noted that with a four-day week the district would have far more make-up days available for those lost to inclement weather than ever would be needed.


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