This week the Lathrop School District in Missouri entered its 10th year of having a four-day school week. With more schools in the district opting for a similar schedule, the shorter week is proving a big success.
In a report by Sarah Plake for 41 KSHB, the four-day system shows benefits for all concerned. An English teacher at Lathrop High, Whitney Zanter, explained that by sticking to a Tuesday through Friday timetable, her teaching is more consistent. She now sees her pupils every school day and is able to dedicate her teaching days entirely to them, using Mondays for grading papers and prepping for the week ahead. That extra day also allows her to do any one-to-one teaching that her students may need.
For the districts themselves the numbers are impressive. According to Superintendent Chris Fine, student attendance is up by 1% — somehow by opting for a more compact teaching week they’ve added 35 hours to the year, going from 1065 to 1095 hours in the year. And a substantial $1.2 million has been saved since the new schedule was first implemented, with any savings going towards teacher salaries and the school budgets.
The shorter week is also useful in a state like Kansas that has its share of snow days. The Monday adds some flexibility to the timetable, so when necessary the school days can be swapped around a little to make up for any days lost due to severe weather — although we can understand how some kids might find this a bit of a disadvantage!
Thankfully for students there are also other benefits. Not only do they get to enjoy a long weekend, any substantial homework can be given to them on the Friday so they have more time to work on it over the weekend.
This thought was echoed by one mom of a middle-schooler, Tracy Hudelmeyer, who said of the schedule: “As far as education, I think they’re still learning the same amount that they would a normal five-day week. She has plenty of time to do all her homework.”
As more schools sign up to the schedule, totaling 61 in Missouri’s school districts, the benefits seem indisputable. Although some parents were initially anxious about childcare arrangements for the free Monday, according to Fine this actually hasn’t caused a problem.
There may be yet another advantage for Christian families that wasn’t discussed in the report. By having a longer weekend, families have more time for sports and chores on Saturdays and Mondays, allowing both parents and children to observe the Sabbath. So perhaps the four-day school week is the answer to reclaiming the Sunday as the sacred day it truly should be.
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