Four-day school week could be an example of success

Published 4:23 pm Saturday, March 16, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Could the Concordia Parish School Board’s approval of a four-day-a-week school calendar signal a change in the educational model in the Miss-Lou?

The approval, which came on Thursday after months of town hall meetings and employee meetings, would eliminate the traditional five-day school calendar in the 2024-2025 school year, opting instead for four-day weeks after August and into April. The calendar, which was approved by employees, comes with the endorsement of 53 percent of the 1,433 who responded to a survey – a far cry from an overwhelming majority.

But it also comes with the recommendation of district leaders, who say shifting the calendar makes the district more competitive with neighboring parishes when it comes to teacher recruitment. And, the officials say, the change in schedule will not negatively impact educational time or opportunities for students.

Email newsletter signup

The argument was enough to capture the attention of leaders in the Natchez-Adams School District as well, who have briefly discussed the idea of a change in school schedules, although they have taken no measures to study or implement the concept.

As of September 2023, more than 2,100 schools in 26 states had switched to a four-day school week, with small, rural schools facing teacher shortages leading the trend. In Independence, Mo., the shift to four-day weeks resulted in a four-fold increase in teacher applications – a staggering response.

Struggling districts see the change to a four-day week as an opportunity to also reduce expenses, simply by not opening buildings and classrooms one day each week.

The trend is still in its infancy, and studies have yet to reveal the true long-term impacts. Issues that plague the same rural schools struggling for teachers also present challenges with the shift: How will working parents secure day-care for their children, when many communities do not offer sufficient day care opportunities? In economically challenged communities, like those in Concordia Parish and Adams County, how will the students who depend on the free and reduced meals at school benefit from those services when they are not in the classroom? How will the change impact graduation rates, specifically among those teenagers on the bubble who are in danger of dropping-out? Will juvenile crime rates increase as teens and pre-teens find themselves with more unsupervised days?

Many education experts believe a four-day school week is the right solution for the challenges districts like Concordia Parish face these days in recruiting and retaining highly qualified teachers. If so, this move may well position Concordia Parish to find success in teacher recruiting. We can only hope the school district will find the same success in resolving the ancillary challenges students and the community may face.

If so, the Concordia Parish schools might just provide an example for others to follow.