Students heading back to school in the Irene-Wakonda school district in South Dakota will be greeted with three-day weekends. In a cost-cutting measure, the district has now moved to a Monday through Thursday schedule. An extra 30 minutes will be tacked on to each school day. Superintendent Larry Johnke said the new four-day weeks will save the district $50,000 a year.
The Irene-Wakonda district now joins a growing list of rural school systems across the country opting for a shorter week in order to save money. Peach County, Georgia adopted a Tuesday through Friday week in 2010. Pueblo County School District 70 in Colorado made the same move in May of 2010 in the face of a $5.8 million budget shortfall.
Parents, though, continue to voice concern about whether a shortened week means less education for students.
“The kids are going to suffer,” the Irene-Wakona PTA president told TIME. “Of course they will. They’re missing a whole day of school.”
The Peach county superintendent actually reported test scores and attendance improved on a four-day schedule. The district made tutors available on Mondays when students were off from school. In fact, Clark told USA Today that the graduation rate was likely to be 80 percent for the first time in years.
In South Dakota, other districts on the Monday through Thursday schedule have reported no decline in academic achievement, but a savings of more than $100,000. In Irene-Wakonda, the superintendent says students will still be receiving the state’s minimum instruction time.
Is the minimum enough? Would you be opposed to four-day weeks for your child’s school district?