(KLTV) - Recently, the Athens ISD school board voted to move to a 4-day school week beginning next fall. Roughly 500 districts in 25 states have a similar approach and district officials have said the driver behind the decision is to help with teacher recruitment because it gives the teachers more planning time and a 3-day weekend.
This is also an interesting experiment in the impact on student learning. In many districts that have gone to a 4-day week, performance and attendance stats have improved. But are we setting a stage for students to be challenged when they get into the workforce that typically works 5 days a week? Plus a significant number of students rely on school provided meals during the week so now they will be sent home with food on Thursday.
It seems like it will be a fragile process so the district must ensure that students are not caught in the middle. Other concerns are childcare for younger students on Fridays which will impact families where parents are working. Ultimately, the proof will be in the pudding and if it indeed helps with recruiting and if students are taught more effectively then this will be celebrated but in the very competitive world of teacher recruitment, this extra day will only go so far.
If districts are to remain appealing, they must have the total package and must find a way to increase pay for teachers. Our children deserve the best, especially during their school-aged years and providing that, regardless of the bell schedule, will make for a Better East Texas.