As Central Texas schools weigh 4-day week, more than 40 districts in the state have already made the switch
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(KWTX) - The option of a 4-day school week has families in Central Texas talking about options as more area districts consider making the change.
KWTX found across the state, there are at least 43 districts already operating on 4-day school weeks.
Most of the schools are in north and east Texas, with 15 and 17 districts respectively.
4-DAY SCHOOL WEEK SURVEY BELOW:
The Superintendent of Mineral Wells ISD in North Texas told KWTX the district just implemented the 4-day week this school year.
“Literally there were three small school districts within a 15-20 mile radius of us that made the decision to go to a 4-day week. We actually were losing teachers to those districts, we lost one veteran educator that caught my attention and then we lost some others as well. At that point the school board and myself said ‘let’s look into it,’” Superintendent John Kuhn said.
He says so far he believes the change has been a success for his district, seeing preliminary test scores even come up from a year ago.
“Our community seems to really love it. The family unit seems to be growing stronger because there’s more time for not only our teachers to spend with their kids but for our community members to go on weekend trips and those things,” Kuhn explained.
The one district in the “Central Texas” region currently on a 4-day week is Rochelle ISD outside of the KWTX viewing area.
China Spring ISD is the latest district in our area to propose a 4-day week.
The district says the change would help with teacher retention and recruitment, reduce staff absences, increase planning time for teachers, reduce the need for substitutes and reduce student and staff absences.
The proposed new calendar will continue to meet state instructional minute requirements by the state of 75,600 minutes.
They say it will also help attract experienced teacher and substitute applicants, make them want to stay and therefore improve the quality of instruction for students.
The district says their plan allows for more family time and time for families to make appointments without missing school.
“The idea is to give teachers an extra day to prepare and potentially even spend an extra day with their families. Most importantly prepare and rest,” Superintendent Marc Faulkner explained.
Parents raised several concerns during Monday’s meeting about the 4-day school week, including child-care options on Fridays while kids aren’t in school.
KWTX News 10 looked into the state of childcare in the China Spring area.
“Right now I have 22 Pre-kers in here, because you have to have 2 teachers if you have more than 15 students,” Courtney Taylor, director of Jumpstart Early Childhood Education Center, said.
Taylor said daycare is currently at capacity for students this school year and they’re just getting by with the staff that they have.
“At the moment we barely have staff as is,” Taylor said. “Any child care center you call, they’re short-staffed, nobody wants to work a little bit above minimum wage.”
If China Spring ISD approves the 4-day week, Taylor expects an increase in demand: one she’s not prepared to meet.
“If they can’t come here or go to other childcare facilities – where are they supposed to go?” Taylor said. “Are parents supposed to just leave their kids at home?”
Under the plan, China Spring ISD is looking at offering what’s called Supplemental Remediation Days for students pre-k through 4th grade to go on the Fridays that they have off. North Texas school district Mineral Wells ISD has a similar population size as China Spring and are already operating on a 4-day week
“In our conversations early on we had schools tell us that parents were going to bring up the day care issue, what these other schools have found is that it’s really not that big of a hurdle as you would assume,” superintendent Kuhn said.
Mineral Wells ISD provides the same supplemental remediation days that China Spring ISD is considering.
“We had 51 kids sign up for that and then after a few weeks of operating we only had about 40 kids coming and that’s been consistent all year,” Kuhn said. “I think we’re at 37 kids right now that come Friday after Friday after Friday.”
Meanwhile Jumpstart Early Childhood Education Center said if a four-day school week is approved they’ll consider expanding their after school program for students kindergarten through 7th grade.
“We’re a nonprofit, so the money we get every week is what we get by with,” Taylor said. “But if an opportunity does come up where we can expand we would love to.”
The China Spring ISD superintendent expects the district to have a decision by March or April. Any decision on next year’s school calendar must be approved by the China Spring ISD school board.
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