Harrisburg Wraps Up First Year Using Four-Day School Week
HARRISBURG - Parents, students and teachers said the Harrisburg R-VIII School District's new four-day school week, whose first year in operation ends Friday, is a success.
The school board for this town of about 230 voted to implement the shortened week last Spring after voters rejected a tax levy meant to bolster the district's weakening budget reserves. School officials said classes on Mondays were dropped because holidays such as Labor Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day fall on this day. To make up for the shortened week, the district lengthened the school day to seven hours, from five and a half.
Superintendent Lynn Proctor said the district expected to save between $75,000 and $80,000 this year because it is only running bus routes four days a week and does not need to pay noncertified staff such as janitors on Mondays. Final figures aren't in yet, but Proctor said these estimates could turn out to be low. Proctor and Harrisburg High School principal Lesa Rapert said the week does not appear to have had any effect on grades.
Both parents and students said they like the new schedule because it is more consistent.
Hanna Sublett, who is in fifth grade, said she likes the fact that her teachers are able to spend more time on each subject. She said she understands the material better because her teachers don't have to stop each unit so suddenly.
Sublett's mother, Julie Krause, said she thinks Hanna has benefited from the new schedule. Krause said the four-day week is easier on her as well because she doesn't need to keep track of half days. The district had just one half day this year.
Most parents who spoke with KOMU 8 News said they favored the new school week. However, a few said they didn't like it. Chris Kaplan was the only opponent willing to go on record. She said her son is enrolled in a vocational program run through the Moberly School District, which uses the standard five-day week. As a result, her son doesn't get Mondays off. Other parents expressed concerns about finding child care on Mondays, although Kim Schooley didn't share these concerns. She said her work schedule sometimes allows her to take Mondays off.
Older students said the new schedule helps them as well. Harrisburg High School sophomore Kale Spry said he usually doesn't notice the lengthened school day.
"Sometimes I have to leave school early for a basketball game and other activities when school would normally get out," he said.
Molly Leach, a senior, said the longer days give her teachers more time to help students.
"For my harder classes like calculus and physics, my teacher actually helps us on homework because there's so much time in class now."
Proctor said the district will remain on a four-day schedule next year. She said the district could consider going back to a five-day week if its financial situation improves.