Four-Day School Weeks
Since the fall of 2020, Reeds Spring Schools has operated as a four-day-a-week district. The Strategic Planning team recommended the plan to the school board as a way to attract, recruit, retain, and grow world-class employees. The board approved the plan in 2020.
Here are some frequently asked questions:
Why would Reeds Spring Schools consider a Four-Day School Week Calendar?
- Enhance the quality of student learning & engagement
- Attract, recruit, retain and hire world-class employees, which is a district strategic plan priority
- Grow all staff at a deeper level with intensive professional development
- Create a consistent school calendar with built-in make-up days, which helps stakeholders plan
- Over time, the calendar would create cost savings that could be put back into the classroom. It is important to note that this decision is not being made from a financial savings perspective.
What does the four-day week look like at Reeds Spring?
- No school on most Mondays
- Daily hours are approximately 7:55 a.m.-3:25 p.m.
How does the four-day school week impact the hiring, retaining, and growing of world-class teachers and support staff?
- We are competing with area school districts like Springfield, Nixa, and Ozark for quality candidates. While our beginning pay is very competitive with area schools, we fall way short the longer a teacher works here compared to area districts. We have not been able to attract teachers from these districts. This may give us the ability to even the playing field and attract teachers and staff we could not attract or retain previously. With the national teacher shortage we are facing, and that is now impacting Missouri, this move could be beneficial for us.
- As more and more districts around us are moving to a four-day schedule, we are concerned about losing staff members to those schools. We have already lost some support staff to four-day districts.
- We are looking at this model from a different lens than our peers. We see this as a real opportunity to extend our professional development approach with our employees. More time for teachers to prepare for lessons, collaborate, and engage in professional learning will be provided with an increase in PD days from 13 days to approximately 18 days.
- Increase family time for some of the community and staff
- Provide a possible benefit for teachers who commute a longer distance
How does a four-day school week impact student achievement?
- Research indicates that student achievement has remained neutral or is inconclusive in the impact. This is true both in Missouri and across the nation.
- Feedback from schools that we have personally interviewed indicates the same. They have not witnessed a decrease in student achievement and most have experienced a slight increase in some areas. Most believed student engagement had increased based on their local data.
- Student learning is largely a result of the quality of instruction not the number of minutes in a seat. Our entire focus is on taking significant steps forward in regards to student achievement and post-high school career and college readiness.
- That day off can be used for apprenticeships, job shadowing, and college visits for our students.
Does a four-day school week create a childcare problem for our parents?
- Boys and Girls Club is open on Mondays
- The district also provides Early Childhood Education for three-and-four-year-olds on the day off of school. Additionally, the district has expanded the KAPS program, extending care for kindergarten-age students on Mondays.
Does the four-day school week provide the district financial savings?
- Part of our district funding comes from state aid. Enrollment affects Average Daily Attendance (ADA). The ADA number is the starting point for state funding. If student enrollment and attendance increases or decreases, it financially impacts our district significantly. Having four-day weeks might attract families and students, thus increasing our enrollment.
- Our student attendance is a major concern. Four-day schools report that in all cases student attendance increases in that model. This could potentially benefit us from both a financial and academic excellence standpoint
- Current research and feedback from other four-day districts indicate an average of 1%-2.5% overall budget savings for a fiscal year. For us that could equate to around $500,000 in savings annually. Over time, this could add up to significant savings but again it is not a priority.
- Although there are some other savings possibilities, it has been reported that the majority of the savings comes from the following areas:
- Fuel savings (transportation)
- Bus mileage (depreciation)
- Energy savings (Electric/Heating/Cooling)
- Substitute teacher reduction (Fewer days for teachers to miss & staff can schedule appointments on days in which we are not in session)
- Food costs
What changes does this cause in after-school activities, such as practices?
- Activities and practices remain the same. Monday athletic practices do not begin until after 3:00 p.m. This allows families to take care of their doctor appointments without worrying about missing practices. Students can also use this time to work and explore potential careers.
What about students who rely on the school for meals?
- We currently partner with the United Methodist Church of Kimberling City to provide weekend meals for students in need. Food is provided for students who attend EEC, KAPS, and Boys and Girls Club.
What are additional possible benefits other than hiring and retaining quality staff and cost savings?
- An anticipated increase in student attendance rate. This schedule gives families more flexibility in scheduling vacations and appointments for students.
- Districts have indicated that staff morale is higher due to the extra day away during the week. Although finding hard data is difficult, the districts report that their staff members feel more prepared and have more energy for class. Students are more engaged. Only one district in the state has reverted back to a five-day calendar. Districts are reporting that all the concerns they received prior to implementation worked themselves out after starting it and that families really value the extra time.
- Four-day schools have indicated that students seem to prefer the four-day week as it allows more time for working at their jobs and many use the extra day to work on projects and prepare for classes.
- Maintenance staff members could be more efficient and productive in their positions. For example, this schedule would allow more time to complete projects and tasks while students are not in the building with fewer interruptions.
- Extended family time
- Research indicates a reduction in student discipline
In visiting with schools across the state, the perceptions among teachers, administrators, community members, and patrons about the four-day week are overwhelmingly positive and supported by all groups.
For additional information regarding four-day-school weeks from external sources go to this link from Missouri State University.