For the four day school week

Is the four day school week as bad as administrators say it is?

Natalie Walsh, Staff reporter

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Waking up on Monday mornings just might be the absolute worst thing a high schooler has to deal with once a week. When students are waking up anywhere between 5 a.m.-6 a.m., Monday through Friday, sleeping in on the weekend is valued even more than the grades we strive to achieve.

Warren County R-III School District has made an official change to their school schedule that several students are more than excited about; a change that will allow students to have more time with family, studying for test, and receiving help- including tutoring and special education. A change that gives students that one extra day to sleep in.

A change to a four-day school week.

At the start of the 2019-2020 school year, Warren County will officially have school Tuesday through Friday with a three-day weekend from Saturday to Monday.

This change is possible due to a new Missouri instruction law. Previously, schools in our state were required to meet a minimum amount of time spent at school as well as a minimum amount of days. Now, the law has excluded the minimum day requirement, allowing schools to meet the minimum hour requirement in ways they best see fit.

For Warren, this means adding 33 minutes to the end of every school day to compensate for removing Monday from their school week.

Every transition a district makes is for a reason. A transition as grand as this one has several reasons; one being that Mondays will now be what Superintendent Dr. Gregg Klinginsmith of Warren County calls, “Care Days”.

Mondays will be non-attendance days. Warren County R-III plans on having ‘Care Days’ on Mondays,” Dr. Klinginsmith said. “These are originally designed to give parents of younger children a place to send their children during the day… we hope to expand learning opportunities for students.”

“Expanding learning opportunities for students” includes aspirations to provide education partnerships with Mizzou for students who have an interest in special fields of education, as well as possibly providing swimming lessons off campus with the City of Warrenton.

Another reason this transition is being made is because it will help the schools economically. Saving on transportation and utilities cost will help in the long run. After close inspection, the school district realized that this change will not save much, but any savings are helpful.

“The district is expected to save less than one percent of our budget. This might not seem like a lot of savings, but we need to operate as efficiently as we can,” Dr. Klinginsmith said.

Along with the Care Days and savings, the most important reason for this change is keeping teachers in the district.

With students being the number one priority at any school, having teachers that want to better the education of the student body is important. With the lower salaries that Warren County R-III has in comparison to other districts in the area, this change in school days just might be the solution to keep teachers from leaving the district.

We are using time as an incentive for our teachers to stay in Warren County. Our hope is that moving to a four day school week helps us keep more of our teachers; and thus, providing a better education to our students,” Dr. Klinginsmith said.

As for the Francis Howell School District, this transition has been brought to the table, yet not put into action. Dr. Nathan Hoven, Chief Academic Officer at FHSD, believes our schools will do what is best for our student body.

“Our district is always open to ideas that would improve how we serve our students and community,” Dr. Hoven said.

With always wanting to do what is best for the students of our school, this transition has been considered. The pros and cons have been considered and acknowledged.

“Without that fifth day you can save money on transportation, food service, etc., as well as potentially utilities and other costs.  It also saves money because some of the hourly staff don’t work as much, saving payroll costs,” Dr. Hoven said.

Along with these savings comes additional expenses. Paying for the services that Mondays would provide and possibly extra staff to cover certain services for children might cost almost as much as we would save.

For reasons such as these, our district has not committed to a four day school week.

“I would not say that we are actively looking at such a change, but if at some point all available information pointed to it being the best way to serve our students and community we would have to consider it,” Dr. Hoven said.

According to a 2011 study by By Michael Griffith, “What Savings are Produced by Moving to a Four-Day School Week?” it is obvious to see that savings might not be as much as expected, but the transition can help economically in other ways.

“In the Duval school district, moving to a four-day week produce only a 0.7% savings, yet that resulted in a budget reduction of $7 million. That $7 million could be used to retain up to 70 teaching positions. When faced with a choice of reducing the school week by one day or letting 70 teachers go, it is easy to see why some school administrators have chosen to go with the four-day week” (Griffith).

As far as teacher benefits go, there is an immense appeal to only having to teach four days a week. Initially, the loss of a day in classes would seem hard to plan around. As time goes on, teachers will adjust to this new schedule and hopefully be able to teach students to a new level of standards.

For Warren, the four day school week is hopefully appealing to teachers who have considered leaving the district. With the wishes that this transition will outweigh a smaller salary in the area, the expectations for this change have been set high.

Mrs. Jill Schafer, one of our business department teachers here at Francis Howell Central sees the four day school week in a positive light for Warren County.

“From what I hear, I think it would be great for that school district. Being in a rural area, they have a harder time attracting and retaining teachers. Hopefully this will help with that problem,” Schafer said.

For teachers at FHC, this has not been discussed as much due to the difference in salary. Teachers at Francis Howell Central have the ability to earn much more of an income over time than a teacher in the Warrenton School District has.

As far as being beneficial to students, teachers want what is best for their pupils.

“Whether it [is] a four or five day school week… I’m always open to change and new ideas. Education is always changing, so anything new that we can do to not only accommodate to teachers schedules but the students as well, if it would be a positive impact for them, I would be for it,” Schafer said.

Wanting what is best for students and knowing what is best for students are two different things. At this moment in time, the amount of research and quality data for a shortened school week are too slim and broad. Possibly, after receiving the effects this schedule has on students in Warren County, we might be able to decide what is best for the pupils of FHSD.

“I am sure there will continue to be more research on the topic, and perhaps as more districts make the shift the impact may become more clear [what effect this change has on students],” Dr. Howen said.

So for anyone who is looking for a shorter school week in our district, keep your hopes held high and your standards stationed short; because although this change seems unlikely for our district now, it has potential for our future.