Four-day school weeks can work
I am disappointed to see the Pasco school board dismiss the four-day school week proposal and also the subsequent dismissive editorial by the Times. My son attends a Pasco school, so my interest in the subject prompted me to use the four-day schedule idea for a research term paper (a feasibility study). Coincidentally, within hours of the board rejecting the proposal, I had typed out my recommendation in favor of the new schedule.
There is a strong consensus that the four-day schedule provides significant savings, particularly in transportation and operational expenses. The savings are sometimes over-estimated initially, but they still provide considerable relief. It causes no decline in grades or test scores, and in a few cases provided a marginal increase. Maybe more importantly, it provides a needed boost in morale, a strong decline in absenteeism among students and faculty, a reduced dropout rate, and a reduction in disciplinary problems. Many districts who have adopted the four-day schedule have also found it to be a useful tool in recruiting new teachers.
The Pasco school district already has an outstanding after-school care program (PLACE) that also operates on holidays and over the summer. I would think this program could easily be adjusted to accommodate the extra day off for those concerned about young children being unsupervised.
When a four-day week is proposed, it is usually met with ambivalence and sometimes hostility by the public. The arguments against it are usually based on rhetoric and emotion since there is little data to support them. These arguments are often enough to back down elected officials. Once the schedule is in place and the kinks are worked out, public opinion usually shifts to being strongly in its favor. Something clearly needs to be done, and this change could have brought much needed, substantial budget relief. I have to wonder, how many more teachers' jobs will be spared by reduced-power vending machines?
Jereme M. Wheeler, New Port Richey