Some schools have recently begun a 4-day week, particularly schools in rural areas. Detractors have often declared that there are no benefits to such a change and in fact are problems created by it including a reduction in effective instruction time. However, studying the facts uncovers some real advantages to the 4-day school week.
1. Family benefits
Families can actually be helped by the longer weekend, especially those with older students. The extra day could prevent students from having to miss school because activities like dental appointments could be scheduled then. Older teenagers could benefit since they could work more hours on the long weekend. That way, fewer school nights would need to have time taken up by a job, creating a better learning experience for them.
2. Amount of time
Benefits may also be seen inside the school. In a class, teachers must typically wait for students to be seated, take attendance, and linger while students get their materials out before beginning the work for the day. That amount of time adds up to a tenth of the typical class period. That means one day out of every two weeks is lost. With a 4-day school week, classes would be longer, allowing much of that lost time to be reclaimed.
3. Cost savings
In addition, the cost savings could be significant. The cost of electricity would certainly be reduced since the school should ideally be out of use an extra day during the week. This savings extends to heat and air conditioning units since they could be kept at a minimum on the day off. Even more money could be saved from transportation. Buses would not use as much gas since they run fewer days, and less wear-and-tear on the vehicles saves money on repair and replacement costs.
4. Labor budgets
A 4-day school week also allows schools to reduce labor budgets. Classes that last longer and are offered fewer days of the week typically require fewer teachers. Other positions may also be able to be consolidated such as office personnel and maintenance workers. Even if positions can’t be dropped, it might be feasible to cut back hours for some areas, even administration. While the reduction or loss of jobs is never pleasant, sometimes it is necessary.
5. Quality of learning
Often times complaints are made about the 4-day school week, particularly the cut in instructors, because the quality of learning will be reduced. However, the opposite seems to be true. Students in Victor, Montana have had a 4-day school week for a number of years and have seen no drop in test scores. In fact, performance has increased since the inception of the shorter week.
Schools have been making hard choices for many years. As money grows tighter, more and more of them need to turn to new methods of saving costs without sacrificing educational quality. The 4-day school week is a plausible answer to budgetary issues, one that has many more advantages than potential drawbacks.