Benefits of the Four Day School Week

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The John Doe School District of Little Town, Colorado is a rural district with an enrolment of a little under 1,000 students. Houses in the area are few and far apart; buses have to drive, on average, nearly 900 miles a day. All forms of travel require a large part of the day, and students and teachers have to miss a large part of the school day to attend to personal appointments in the larger city of Hugeville. With a small population, the district has trouble finding substitute teachers on short notice. On Fridays about 37% of the students are on a bus driving to a sporting event. When the superintendent looked at their budget for the next five years he found that there could be a lack of money and some activates might have to be cut. After doing some research, he discovered that if he switched to the four-day school week he could save $1,000,000 (Reeves). A four-day school week would be a great benefit to the John Doe School district. The system is ideal for rural schools, and that is what Little Town is. It has many benefits with little problems that can be fixed or are so minute that they hardly affect the issue.

The four-day week started in early '70s New Mexico to deal with the high transportation and electric costs during the energy crisis. When the shortened week was first being debated, the New Mexico Legislature ruled out larger districts; it wouldn't be nearly as expense reducing since commutes are shorter in a larger area. On top of that, the child-care problem is much more difficult to tackle in urban areas. Jack McCoy, deputy director of learning services at the New Mexico Department of Education, said, "...in larger cities, you typically had more families with both parents working." There are also fewer child-care options in large cities (Reeves). According to the New York Times, in the year 2002, thirty-six out of 180 districts in Colorado, and twenty out of forty-eight in Wyoming were using the shorter week. There are also a "smattering in Arizona, Louisiana, and Utah" that have gone to the new calendar. Most of these districts are in small rural areas ("Four-Day").

Changes in the state requirements were necessary to get this system to work. Since students were going to school one less day a week the requirement had to be changed from days to hours.

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