Spokane School District has adopted a four-day week starting this fall to boost staff recruitment and retention.
The rural Missouri district can’t offer the same salaries as larger neighboring districts due to size and lack of resources, according to the Springfield News-Leader report.
State lawmakers permitted this option for districts facing tough choices during an economic downturn in 2010, when state funding was limited.
Since then, 61 districts have transitioned to the four-day week. A record 28 districts, including Spokane, made the change this year.
Spokane Superintendent Della Bell-Freeman said the schedule change allowed the district to offer more benefits to current and future employees, presenting a competitive advantage: three-day weekends, fewer work days overall and more family and free time.
“You’ve got to come up with a way to get folks to look at your district, first of all, and then to want to stay,” Bell-Freeman said.
Students attend classes Tuesday through Friday with longer days. The elementary school has class from 7:50 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and middle and high school start from 8 a.m. to at 3:39 p.m.
Shorter weeks are better for teachers involved in extracurricular activities, said Becky Justis, assistant principal of Spokane’s middle and high schools.
“In a smaller district, you have more of your faculty involved in extracurricular activities and sports, so when your Saturdays are taken up with a volleyball tournament or cross country meet or band competition or archery during the five-day week you just have Sunday to get yourself back together,” she said.
Teachers must stick more closely to their curriculums, Bell-Freeman said of the new schedule. And the district must make sure students are there and on time.
“You have to be very focused and very intentional about what you are doing,” she said. “The message is: every day matters, every minute matters.”