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1A Across America: The Growing Trend Of The Four-Day School Week

Monolingual Hispanic students raise their hands to answer a question during a class taught in Spanish at Birdwell Elementary School in Tyler, Texas.
Photo by Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images
Monolingual Hispanic students raise their hands to answer a question during a class taught in Spanish at Birdwell Elementary School in Tyler, Texas.

More and more school districts across the U.S. are embracing the four-day school week.

Right now, nearly 560 districts in 25 states have adopted the change, with most implementing a Monday-Thursday schedule. The trend is especially popular in rural areas.

Proponents say the move will help schools cut costs and bolster teacher recruitment. But there’s concern that a four-day school week is tough on low-income families, who rely on the meals and childcare embedded in a school day.

One state that’s leading the trend of four-day school weeks is Colorado. One of its major districts, 27J, made the switch this academic year.

Reporter Stephanie Daniel of Across America partner station KUNC in Greeley, Colorado, has been following this issue. Here’s part of her piece from the beginning of the school year:

“We had to think out of the box,” said Tracy Rudnick, public information officer and head of the communications department for 27J schools.

27J is one of the lowest funded districts in the Denver metro area. But Rudnick said money was not the main reason for the change to a four-day week.

“We were looking at new and creative ways to attract and retain teachers,” said Rudnick.

Traditionally 27J has been a stepping stone for educators. They start their career there, then move onto another district that pays more.

Rudnick said the move to a shorter work week has already boosted recruitment. A couple months after the change was announced, the district hosted a career fair and 500 teachers — experienced and prospective — attended.

That was more than double from the year before.

The district was able to fill more positions and hire seasoned educators, a rarity for them.

“It was a nice balance to hire new teachers and professionals that have been in the system for many years and bring that experience to the district,” said Rudnick. “So, that’s valuable to us as well.”

The district is happy with the new schedule, according to Rudnick, and plans to reevaluate the program in three years.

We talk about the true cost of cutting class around the country.

This show was produced by Across America producer James Morrison. Text by Kathryn Fink.

1A Across America is funded through a grant from The Corporation for Public Broadcasting. CPB is a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967 that is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting.


Paul Hill, Founder, Center on Reinventing Education; research professor, University of Washington Bothell; @CRPE_UW

David Blackburn, Superintendent, Salida School District

Stephanie Daniel, Education reporter, KUNC; @stephd323

For more, visit https://the1a.org.

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