Students in much of the rest of the world attend classes six or even seven days a week. In this country, we’ve traditionally sent our students to school five days a week. However, with the cost of everything on the rise, that proposition is becoming increasingly expensive. While some school districts have trimmed programs, others have looked for different ways to save money. Increasingly, districts are looking to the four-day week and giving students and teachers a three-day weekend, every weekend.
One of the latest school districts to adopt such a plan is Marion County, Florida. Kevin Christian, the school district’s public relation officer said that the School Board passed the option by a vote of 4-1 at the end of June.
According to Orlando television station 13 news, a massive $24 million cut to the budget prompted the action. Marion County School Superintendent Jim Yancey said this new plan will save the district about $4.5 million.
“Students will attend school either Monday through Thursday or Tuesday through Friday, with an additional 75 minutes tacked on each day in the 2012-2013 school year,” 13 News says.
The upside of all this is that the district will say on water, energy, and transportation costs. The downside is that some critics say the students will experience longer days and the three day-weekends will provide too much time for students to forget what they learned in class.
But Marian County is far from alone in this new plan. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 21 states currently have school districts (with public schools) operating on a four-day week. These states include Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Within these states, more than 120 school districts host four-day school week programs, usually in small, rural districts.
The policy first came into existence in the 1930s and became more common during the energy crisis of the 1970s. Georgia, Oklahoma, and Washington are the most recent states to adopt legislation allowing four-day school weeks.
As other cost-cutting efforts fail to produce the necessary savings for a school district, more may turn to the four-day week as viable option.