Loose Ends: On a four-day week

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The school district is facing massive budget cuts and once again a four-day school week is under consideration. As an elementary school teacher during those years, I had mixed feelings about it. I was a traditionalist and believed in the educational philosophy that an increased amount of time in the classroom and a longer school year could only increase all students’ chances for success.
However, I was a realist and understood the school board felt the shortened school week was the cost-saving measure that was needed. As a school employee, I felt that I had to make it work the best I could for my students. I viewed it purely as a cost-saving measure, although many others touted it as a “cutting-edge” educational strategy and a way to cut back on school absences due to trips out of town for medical appointments and sporting events. I continue to be a traditionalist.
The issue soon turned into an ugly imbroglio that turned many community members into enemies. Reasoned discussions soon turned into heated debates, which eventually turned into screaming matches. The divisiveness not only polarized the community, it alienated so many residents that finding people to serve on the public boards became increasingly difficult.
While I have retired from the school system and my children are grown, I continue to be involved in the education of our local children. Most of my fellow retirees stay involved in some way as well and have strong feelings about changes made within the educational system. There continue to be teachers on both sides of the fence on this issue.
Considering going back to the four-day school week is understandable with the state’s plan to institute severe budget-slashing measures. Obtaining the financial statements and determining an exact figure for the school district’s savings with the change to the four-day week the last time is the next step for the school district. While savings were estimated to be less than $100,000 by some, there were reports the district saved more than $120,000 total by others. Fuzzy financials and guesstimates do not make the decision making process around this polarizing issue any easier.
Even talking about this issue is too much for some people and it appears that we will fall into the old “blame-game” pattern if we are not careful. We can’t afford to allow that to happen. The education of our children is too important.