Don’t cross your fingers for four-day school weeks

Feature Photo By: Caroline Smith Students work on their warmup in math class. If four-day school weeks were introduced to the district, it’d be one less day that the technology would be used, the lights wouldn’t be needed, and the heater wouldn’t be on; therefore, saving money for Rangeview.

By: Caroline Smith, Review Staff

Four-day school weeks: should they be an option for the Aurora school district? Smaller, rural schools districts all over Colorado have had four-day school weeks for multiple years. For the 2018-19 school year, District 27J, which includes Brighton and Commerce City, is the first metro area that was changed to four-day weeks.

Some districts have Monday off, while others are different and have Friday off. Either way, it’s a three-day weekend that can have many advantages, as well as disadvantages. So why does it matter? Why is this significant? The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) said the main reasons for switching to four-day schools weeks are students have more time for family. Additionally, teachers use that extra day to plan/prepare for upcoming weeks and students will have a chance to de-stress from all the work. There is also a cost-savings element, especially with transportation, and it might attract more teachers to a school district. 

Angela Turner, a 10th grader commented, “I think it would mess up our everyday habits and confuse our brains, so it’s a bad decision because the system is good as it is.”  

One main advantage of the four day school weeks would be the support of the financial system. The CDE says that the areas in the school system where money is saved is transportation, food service, utilities, and staff. Additionally, childcare wouldn’t be needed because students are more likely to get home around the time of their parents. Four-day schools last for eight hours, whereas five-day schools are in school for seven hours.

With four-day weeks, the overall student performance doesn’t significantly change from the performance during five-day weeks. For four days, the achievement levels are either better, the same, or slightly worse than five days, according to the CDE.

Check the stats here.

“I think there’s an argument to be made either way,” Rangeview Principal Ronald Fay said. “If you asked me if I could have a four-day work week or a five-day work week, I’d tell you I’d want a five-day work week.”

Fay said that he has never worked in a four-day school week district, but it’s just a personal opinion of his.

“I believe it is intended to save the school district money,” Mr. Fay continues. “Maybe in a more rural district like Brighton, because of transportation, it does save some, but I don’t think it’d be something that I would support.”

The Hawks cheer team from Parker performed during a football game at Rangeview on Saturday, September 1st. Moving athletic and extracurricular activities to weekends could be an option if school days were extended (Caroline Smith).

One of the Aurora District School Board Directors (specifically for Rangeview) had a similar opinion to Fay. Dan Jourgensen said, “I personally believe it could undo the burden parents have, especially those with young children in finding childcare… It seems to me students may have more opportunities if they’re at school on the fifth day.”

A big question asked about this topic is why is it being done? Why does it matter if students go to school for four or five days? The main reason is simply to save money for the district, but this seems to be the only reason why. After interviewing Fay and Jourgensen, as well as the Colorado Department of Education, none of them were able to clearly state a reason for these switches, other than financial. When the district is low on money and needs the extra support, this is a cost-saving strategy that could potentially be considered.

How would changing to four-day school weeks go over with teachers, parents, and students? As said earlier, teachers would have an extra day to plan their lessons and get everything prepared for that upcoming week. Parents might have it a little easier because they wouldn’t have to worry about rushing out of work to pick up their child and wouldn’t have to pay as much for childcare when school does finish. For students, however, this process might seem a little more challenging.

10th grader Alex Easton said, “I feel like changing our schedules to four-days would affect extracurricular activities because the homework time is pushed back; therefore it’s a bad decision.”

“You have longer school days, so those that are involved in athletics and all of that are really not getting any time away,” Fay said.

If the schedule were to change, some people think it might be harder for students who are involved in clubs or sports to deal with the long days. With the extension of school days and still having to go to practices, the energy of students would decrease as well as their motivation to finish homework that evening; however, that extra day will be there for students every week to get extra homework done and relax.

Having a three-day weekend every single week would take some time for students to adjust. The whole system would take some getting used to, so would it really be worth it in the long run?

Changing a district from four-day school weeks to five-day school weeks would be a very big deal and would need to be brought up to the school board and be heavily discussed.

Jourgensen talked about how education in Colorado isn’t getting funded as much as it used to due to tax laws and the poor economy. So who knows? Could the Aurora school district potentially change the number of school days?

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