Four-day school week could improve discipline and save money

Michael Thomas, Staff Writer

A four-day weekend may sound like an unattainable dream for the average exhausted high school student, but some school districts have found that a four-day week is beneficial to staff, students and the district budget, meaning removing Monday from the work week is practical and maybe even necessary.
Although mainly utilized in small or rural school districts, the benefits of a four-day week apply to nearly all districts, including Lodi Unified, which itself faces problems with student discipline, staff dissatisfaction and meeting its budget — all problems that could be helped by shedding one day off the school week.
One of the most notable benefits to a four-day week is its positive effects on discipline. After transitioning to a four-day week, Chattanooga County School District (CCSD) in Tennessee reported a 73 percent decrease in referrals and significantly fewer distracted children in class.
There is great potential to combat absenteeism among both students and staff because, for both groups, Monday is by far the most commonly missed day — Bear Creek is no exception. According to attendance clerk Kathy Shelton, the school experiences the most absences on Mondays. Removing Monday could drastically decrease absenteeism as well as give students and staff the break they need to remain healthy all week.
CCSD reported having higher student attendance rates and even fewer sick days taken by staff. Clearly, the four-day week allows students and staff to get the proper rest they require over the weekend.
After a two-year transition period, Peach County School District in Georgia reported that test scores significantly improved and graduation rates increased each year among their high school students.
A four-day week works similar magic on a district’s budget, cutting the day-to-day school expenses by 20 percent. Removing Monday from the school week cuts the cost of transportation, food production, electricity and other daily expenses.
A district in Colorado with only 1,100 students reported saving over $200,000 from its $5.5 million budget. A district as large as Lodi Unified could potentially save millions.
A common argument against an alternative schedule is that it could take away from vacation days or summer, but there is a simple solution. By adding an hour and a half to the remaining four days, the school could remove Monday without altering vacation days or summer.
Although keeping schools open longer each day does take away from the annual savings and strains students, the rest they gain over the weekend outweighs the added load of an hour and a half. Financially, the cost of keeping a school open longer pales in comparison to the heaping expense of opening another day.
Any issues that accompany a four-day school week are greatly surpassed by the plentiful beneficial effects on student and staff attendance, graduation rates, student discipline and cost savings. A district as problematic as Lodi Unified only has money to save and issues to solve by switching to a shorter week.