Whitesburg KY
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4-day school weeks are okay, but at what cost?

Some Kentucky school districts, Jenkins Independent for one, have moved from a five- to a four-day school week. The district saved an estimated $90,000 over the past year in fuel and utility costs, in addition to increasing morale and decreasing burnout among school staff and students.

Kentucky State law allows school districts the flexibility to make such a change requiring only that the equivalent of 177 six-hour instructional days be maintained. …

States such as Colorado, where 62 out of 178 school districts are on a four-day schedule, have been pleased with the results, both in cost-savings as well as the flexibility it provides parents. For instance, the opportunity to work in dentist and doctor appointments. Districts offering four-day weeks use the flexible schedule as a recruiting tool as well, offering teachers an extra day to prepare for classes.

The benefits of making the change in local districts make it seem like a good idea, based on its success elsewhere. But at what costs and imposition on parents?

Those with younger children enrolled in after-school programs know the complexities of after-school care. Altering child care to accommodate a four-day school week would create an initial burden on parents and child-care providers to readjust schedules and possibly lead to additional expenses.

Students involved in extracurricular activities such as band, academic teams or sports also would be challenged by the increased hours in the classroom followed by practice or competition after an extended day of study. Even the current six-hour day sometimes makes fitting everything in difficult for students, parents and teachers.

On the surface, the idea sounds like a good one. However, it might be too impractical considering the five-day work week that is the norm around here. A longer day at school inevitably would force other businesses, such as child-care providers, to alter their schedules as well.

School officials here and across the state would be well advised, however, to continue to look at such alternatives to offset the rising costs of transportation, heating and cooling, and the dramatic cutbacks forced on them by declining state financial support. …

As options are explored and plans are made, everyone involved needs to do their homework, remain open-minded, and keep focused on quality education and what is best for everyone, especially students, to adapt to a dramatically changing economic environment.

– The News-Enterprise, Elizabethtown

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