4-day school week saves thousands of dollars

Tristan Allen, Editor

Colorado School District 27J, which serves nearly 18,000 students near Denver, made headlines in August when they stopped having school on Mondays, effectively creating a four-day school week. Schools across the country, including the Olathe Public Schools, should adopt similar schedules.

The four-day schedule was adopted in 27J to help save money, according to NPR. Chris Fielder, superintendent of 27J, anticipated that “about $1 million” would be saved with this calendar by reducing expenses such as transportation and utilities. Fielder also estimated that running fewer busses would alone save about $700,000.

It can be argued that the possible savings in the Olathe Public Schools would be more than the Colorado district, since Olathe schools served over 30,000 students in 2017, which is more than the 18,000 in 27J. The fact that Olathe Public Schools serves more students suggests that reducing how frequently students attend school could save even more money, because Olathe Public Schools would be serving 30,000 students one day less, or 12,000 more students than 27J.

The only criticism about the savings argument concerning a four-day school week is that, percentage-wise, the savings are not that significant. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the maximum possible cost savings that come with a four-day week is 5.43 percent, and even then, the average savings are between 0.4 to 2.5 percent. However, based on the estimates from Fielder, the savings could still be, at the very least, tens of thousands of dollars.

Not much research has been done on schools with a four-day week. However, a report by two professors from the University of Arkansas concluded that “the five-day districts had slightly higher test scores than the matched four-day districts, with the greatest difference for elementary level students.”

The same report by the University of Arkansas staff members found that the four-day week had benefits such as improved attendance, discipline, and participation.Teachers on a four-day school week also reported havingmore time for planning lessons.

One downside of the four-day week is that, according to one of the sources cited from the report once again is that the days would be an hour to an hour and a half longer. This raises concern because students’ minds would already be burned out for the day.

On the other hand, teachers reported a lot of time was wasted in a five-day week and they actually covered more content throughout the year.

Implementing a four-day school week should help to reduce expenses, increase attendance, participation and discipline, and it would allow teachers to cover more material throughout the year with very little impact on test scores.