School districts in the US are introducing short weeks to save money and alleviate the worsening teacher shortage.
97 of Oklahoma’s 513 districts have made the switch to the four-day week in recent years, citing struggles to cut their budgets and recruit high-quality teachers amid a nationwide teacher shortage and pay crisis that has had a particularly devastating effect on schools in the Sooner State.
“There are lots of challenges and problems that people haven’t tried to fix,” Bob Gragg, the superintendent, told NBC News.
“But just because we’ve been doing it one way for a long time doesn’t mean we necessarily need to keep doing it that way.”
City school districts are taking notice. The four day-week is now beating a path to urban districts, which are facing their own crippling budget shortfalls and teacher retention challenges and are ready to try new solutions to solve growing problems.
The shift to four-day weeks has resulted in what parents, teachers, administrators and scholars say are better student performance and attendance, increased morale among students and teachers and an ability to recruit and keep high-quality teachers — because regular three-day weekends are a big attraction.
The biggest reason schools have made the switch to the short week is that the change helps with luring teachers.
Administrators, teachers, students and parents are all really happy with the switch.
“We did it to save money and to make our teachers happier, and keep them happy,” explained Gragg, the superintendent. “We’ve seen both of those things, and more.”
The school cut its calendar to Monday to Thursday and expanded the day one hour to 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
On Fridays, the school offers optional educational field trips to museums and libraries, “which add to the kids’ education” — especially those below the poverty line, many of whom “wouldn’t get these experiences if we didn’t do this on Friday,” he explained.
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