Louisiana R-2 School Superintendent discusses the possibility of a 4-day school week
Last week, during the regular monthly session, the Louisiana R-2 school district board and superintendent discussed the possibility of upgrading to a 4-day week.
The school district only began the idea research process by interviewing its teachers and staff. According to Louisiana school principal Dr. Todd Smith, the board of trustees won’t go further on the idea without getting public input.
Smith answered a few questions from the Tribune about the possible change.
“We are not going to spend a 4-day week without obtaining the opinion of the public,” wanted to assure parents and students that the district is not rushing into the decision.
“Saving money is a common misconception when moving to a 4-day week,” he continued. “Historically, savings are in the range of 5 to 10%. ”
When asked if most of that percentage would come from savings on fuel and utilities, Smith agreed.
“The real appeal of the 4-day week lies in the area of recruiting teachers,” he explained. “Rural districts have the unique ability to offer a 4 day week – it’s attractive to potential teachers – we can’t pay the salaries they can in town, but we can offer a 4 day week. This advantage may be enough to attract seasoned teachers and attract the best of the best graduates. The pressure is further compounded by the number of schools around us that have already upgraded to a 4 day week. (Clopton, Montgomery County, Van-Far and Silex have already adopted a similar schedule)
“I think we’re doubly disadvantaged – we can’t pay as much as Bowling Green, and all the districts around us are offering 4-day weeks – we just keep going back and forth to attract the best teachers,” Smith mentioned. .
According to Smith, schools moving to the 4-day week are seeing an increase in student and faculty attendance “which is the number one factor in increasing student learning.”
One aspect that school districts the size of Louisiana or smaller face is the teacher shortage which Smith says is a very real problem.
“A lot of senior teachers are retiring and there aren’t enough college graduates to replace them,” he explained. “If a small district wants to attract quality teachers, we have to be competitive. “
How will it work?
Smith said students would see slightly longer school days.
“It’s increasing a bit, but less than you might think. Teacher workshops, conferences, etc. all take place on Mondays, so teaching is not interrupted. Many public holidays are already on Monday and snow days can be made up on Monday. Families and staff can schedule Monday appointments and dramatically reduce absenteeism.
However, the change could present a problem for working parents who may not have flexible careers.
“Child care can be a problem for working families,” Smith replied when asked if the school had considered a solution to the potential barrier. “We discussed with the YMCA the possibility of having some sort of day program on Mondays. Also, in other communities, the churches intervene and fulfill this role. Usually, by the end of the first year, families have become accustomed to the routine and participation drops sharply in day programs.
Smith noted how other school districts have adapted well to the change in schedule. Louisiana has the advantage of looking to surrounding schools while exploring the idea. Clopton made the adjustment in 2018. Van-Far and Montgomery County both changed in 2020.
“Enough schools have gone before us that we have a sense of some of the challenges and solutions – you can’t just reduce your hourly enrollment by a day and expect them to stay,” Smith explained. “Catering and transportation are the two areas where we need to get creative to stay competitive in terms of compensation. There are a number of proven approaches.
The school district plans to continue collecting public feedback on the idea.
“Our next step is to survey families and get a feel for their concerns and how we might address them in the future,” Smith continued. “We then held a series of public meetings to discuss the concerns. Although the transition is an adventure into the unknown, hardly any school has ever turned back once they have made the switch. Most families love it.
What do you think of the transition from school to a four-day week?
The People’s Tribune will continue to update as more information becomes available.