Four-day school week has advantages

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 20, 2005

To the Editor:

Many large American private companies and some government agencies offer or require a four-day schedule for some of their workers (10-hour shifts four days a week for the same pay).

According to a Gallup survey, two-thirds of working adults would prefer a shorter work week.

Some of the advantages of a four-day week in the business world are:

52 extra days a year to do whatever the worker wants.

Less absenteeism as employees have less need to miss work for doctor’s visits and other obligations.

Employers can save on energy, custodial and security costs.

A reduction in exhaust emissions from commuter cars.

The recent huge increase in fuel cost has a large number of school officials contemplating a four-day school week.

Some school districts throughout the country have already shifted to a four-day school week.

Their findings have shown teacher absences fell more than 50 percent, student absences fell by about 20 percent, discipline referrals declined, student test scores and academic achievement increased, and money was saved in janitorial and transportation costs.

Nevertheless, the four-day school has some disadvantages. According to a study conducted by the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, “Concerns mentioned include child care issues, the length of the school day (especially for younger students), possible retention difficulties for learning disabled students, and the need for commitment from the whole community,”

Instructionally, a shorter school week would require teachers to adjust to a longer school day and change their methods in order to keep student attention.

The implementation of a four-day school week is a complicated and multi-step process. It requires the approval of students, parents, community leaders, teachers, and administrators.

Also, some restructuring of the curriculum will be necessary.

Gerald Shirley

Principal, School of Discovery