The rural Montgomery County High School in Missouri has joined the ranks of many schools across the country that have turned to a four-day week in an attempt to balance tight budgets.
The result is an estimated $150,000 in annual savings that otherwise would be spent on custodial services, school lunches and diesel fuel, writes Elisa Crouch at the STL Today.
"As some districts struggle to make ends meet, a few have instigated cost-cutting measures that would have been unthinkable five years ago."
There are over 100 districts across the country that are attempting a shorter school week to save money, yet still maintain quality programs and keep decent teachers. And the Department of Education has recorded that these districts are reporting greater student attention and greater attendance in addition to the financial benefits.
Jeremy Covey, principal of Montgomery County High School, said:
"It's really thinking outside the box.
"Schools have always been five days a week. School boards are resistant to (four days) for many reasons."
Students have a longer school day by about 50 minutes. But as the week has a day dropped from the school calendar, some parents are left with the burden of arranging extra child care.
"Fearing a child care crisis, three area churches opened their doors to "Monday school" for children needing supervision — only to find little demand," writes Crouch.
Superintendent Michael Gray said:
"The need didn't appear to materialize like we thought it would."
Since the Missouri Legislature passed a four-day week bill in 2009, Montgomery County and four other Missouri school districts — Albany, Harrisburg, Lathrop and Stet — have taken up the policy.
And while there have been some teething problems and parent disruption, Montgomery County surveys have shown that general support for the concept has grown.
Jamie Galarza, a mother of sons in the elementary and middle schools was once one of the skeptics, but that's changed:
"I was worried that their education would suffer.
Now, they are more enthusiastic about going to school."