Many Missouri school districts cite benefits of four-day weeks

1 year 8 months 2 weeks ago Thursday, March 10 2016 Mar 10, 2016 Thursday, March 10, 2016 8:11:00 PM CST March 10, 2016 in News
By: Zack Newman, Uliana Pavolva and Calli Luna, KOMU 8 Reporters
loading

COLUMBIA - Some school districts in Missouri have made the switch to a four-day school week and they cite a variety of reasons: to stay open, to get new programs for their students and to promote professional development.

The decision to close one day of the week comes with challenges, but Superintendent of the Montgomery County R-II School District Michael Gray said it has lifted financial burdens, and benefitted students and teachers.

The Wellsville Middletown R-I School District is one of 16 districts to make the change over the past four years. Superintendent Pete Nasir said he knew a poor economy would affect his school district. He said the combination of a closed brick plant and the recession forced the number of students to drop.

“The recession hit us hard,” Nasir said. “People left town to find jobs. Our district has a declining financial climate because we're losing students.”

He said the district initialized a three-pronged approach to save the school. In addition to applying for grants and a tax levy, it instituted a four-day school week this year.

“We’re hoping to maintain what we have by reducing our overall cost,” Nasir said.

The other school districts made the switch had different reasons. (Read more.)

Superintendent of Maries County R-II Patrick Call said money supplements funding from the state often falls short.

“It helps fill the reduction in funds from the state in state aid,” Call said. “It would have come from gambling and the lottery. Those funds come in short every year.”

Call said the money saved by going to a four-day week allowed the district to complete various projects, such as buying a school bus, replacing an ailing elevator in the high school and repairing roofs.

Some districts use the extra day as professional development time for teachers, so they can prepare for their classes without taking up hours on their weekend.

“Teachers love it, and feel like they’re fresh and able to focus on what they need to do,” Gray said.

Teachers now have consistent openings to schedule doctor appointments and other errands, he said.

“We found drastic reduction in substitution teacher cost because teacher absences went down,” Gray said. “In the first year, we saved roughly $30,000.”

The four-day schedule is attractive to those looking for work, said Bob Curtis, principal of the Community R-VI middle and high schools in Laddonia. He said a recent opening at the middle school received twice as many teacher applications than it usually would. Curtis said the district often struggles to find job seekers.

It’s an issue often faced by schools in small towns, said Phil Lewis, executive director of Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals.

“In some of our suburban areas, if a math job opens up or a science job opens up, we'll probably get from 25 to 40 or more applicants for those jobs,” Lewis said. “In many rural areas of Missouri, they might get three. And of those three, maybe two of them would need to be certified to be teachers.”

The new schedule means school days were lengthened by more than an hour, which is not attractive to all school districts.

The Lexington R-V School District made the shift for two years and then went back to a five-day school week in 2015.

“The main reason for the change was the length of the school day for the four-day week was too long for our younger students,” said Michelle Roush, assistant superintendent of Lexington R-V School District.

Another concern of a four-day school week is that students could have less class time.

Gray said he was surprised to see the opposite happen in the Montgomery County School District.

“If you take our four-day week and compare it with our previous five-day week, our students over a year's time are in front of a teacher more minutes than they were on the five-day week,” Gray said.

Another potential problem is that low-achieving students could possibly not get the attention they need to succeed.

Lewis said, “I think we could end up losing some kids, it would be easier for them to not come to school and I think that's one of the reasons that the larger schools say we want to stay with that five-day work week because they know the benefit of having those kids five days a week is critical because we don't want to lose them.”

Gray said it has not been a problem for the Montgomery County R-II School District.

“In fact, most of our students that we thought were low achievers, or really struggled in their learning, have come to us and said ‘I've found that even though I may not like school I can get through these four days easier,’” Gray said.

Test scores and achievement levels have not dropped for students within his district, he said.

Lewis said he also had concerns about what happens to his district’s students once they leave secondary school and move into the workforce, which requires a five-day week for most occupations.

"I think one con is that we all right now are working on a five day work week. That's been around for a long, long time.” Lewis said.

However, Gray said graduates have come back and told him that a four-day school week is much like college. He said they told him it was not a hard transition.

“We've got some students that are now graduating college and the ones that have come back said ‘Mr. Gray, it's not much different than college,’” Gray said. “I may have all my classes on two or three days, and have the other days where I go to lab or I go do this.”

More News

Grid
List
MEXICO - A 34-year-old man died Thursday morning after he crashed his vehicle. Omar Guadencio Cruz-Martinez, of Mexico, Missouri,... More >>
3 hours ago Thursday, November 23 2017 Nov 23, 2017 Thursday, November 23, 2017 12:47:42 PM CST November 23, 2017 in News
BOONE COUNTY - The Boone County Sheriff's Department confirmed a pedestrian died after being struck by a car on Wednesday... More >>
3 hours ago Thursday, November 23 2017 Nov 23, 2017 Thursday, November 23, 2017 12:19:00 PM CST November 23, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - There are school choirs, church choirs, and mixed choirs, but now there is the opportunity to join a... More >>
4 hours ago Thursday, November 23 2017 Nov 23, 2017 Thursday, November 23, 2017 11:57:00 AM CST November 23, 2017 in News
BOONVILLE - The breeding home of the Budweiser Clydesdales, Warm Springs Ranch, is hosting its inaugural Holiday Lights Festival starting... More >>
5 hours ago Thursday, November 23 2017 Nov 23, 2017 Thursday, November 23, 2017 10:39:00 AM CST November 23, 2017 in News
COLE COUNTY - The Cole County Sheriff's Department said it is investigating a shooting that happened Wednesday night. ... More >>
18 hours ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 9:58:20 PM CST November 22, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Missouri basketball star Michael Porter Jr. is recovering after undergoing surgery in Dallas Tuesday. MU said he will... More >>
21 hours ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 6:34:00 PM CST November 22, 2017 in News
BARNETT, Mo - A Morgan County detective is apologizing after shooting and killing a family's dog. He was attempting... More >>
22 hours ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 5:35:00 PM CST November 22, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - On Wednesday, Columbia police released photos of an October armed robbery at Dash Liquor. On October 29,... More >>
23 hours ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 5:01:00 PM CST November 22, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Highway Patrol is joining the fight against opioids. The drug has caused a nationwide crisis,... More >>
23 hours ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 4:27:00 PM CST November 22, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - A Columbia man involved in a deadly shooting in May has been indicted by a federal grand jury... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 4:04:00 PM CST November 22, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – With Thanksgiving comes a lot more traffic on the roads. In fact, according to AAA there will... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 2:14:00 PM CST November 22, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley sent a letter to Uber on Wednesday demanding the rideshare take immediate... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 1:51:00 PM CST November 22, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - City Council voted 4-2 on Monday to postpone a preliminary plat for Columbia Public Schools’ new middle school... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 11:03:00 AM CST November 22, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - A Boone County judge approved a change of venue request for a man accused in a deadly October... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 10:56:00 AM CST November 22, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The Boone County Prosecutor's Office filed more charges Wednesday against a man arrested for two robberies in October.... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 8:47:00 AM CST November 22, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Whether it is by car, plane or train, many people will be traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday.... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 2:36:00 AM CST November 22, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - A three-car crash temporarily shut down one of the northbound lanes of Range Line St. around 6:00 Tuesday... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, November 21 2017 Nov 21, 2017 Tuesday, November 21, 2017 7:00:00 PM CST November 21, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The American Farm Bureau Federation conducted a survey on 16 food items from 25 states across the country... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, November 21 2017 Nov 21, 2017 Tuesday, November 21, 2017 6:19:00 PM CST November 21, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 57°
5pm 51°
6pm 48°
7pm 45°
8pm 44°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

4:00p
Jeopardy!
4:30p
Jeopardy!
5:00p
KOMU 8 News @ 5
4:00p
The Goldbergs
4:30p
The Goldbergs
5:00p
American Dad!

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
Football Night in America
7:20p
Sunday Night Football Thanksgiving Special
7:00p
Supernatural
8:00p
Arrow
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld