School district with four-day week will check effects
By Elliot Mann
Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
Don’t try calling the MACCRAY school district on Mondays. No one is there to answer.
The school usually takes Monday off, unless another day that week falls on a holiday. Monday was thought to have the least impact on extracurricular activities, MACCRAY Superintendent Greg Schmidt said.
This week the district will embark on hearing how the four-day change has affected families. The district at the end of the year will review student performance and attendance rates.
Located about 115 miles west of Minneapolis, MACCRAY is a consolidated district of three cities, Maynard, Clara City and Raymond. The 700-student MACCRAY district estimated that the move will save more than $85,700, with about 75 percent of those savings coming from transportation expenses.
Schmidt so far hasn’t noticed any unbearable repercussions. There have been "rumblings" about too long of a school day for first-graders, he said.
"Many of them are in day-care situations and are kind of used to long days," Schmidt said. "It depends on who you talk to."
The five-day schedule could be reinstated if students started performing much worse, but Schmidt said he doesn’t see that happening.
As districts continue to report troublesome budgeting conditions, Schmidt said the idea seems to be gaining momentum. Nationwide, 16 states have at least one school with a four-day week, including California, Kansas and Texas.
"There are a lot of districts that have been contacting us, so we believe people are seriously considering it," Schmidt said. "I don’t think they are doing it as a threat to their community."
Rochester Superintendent Romain Dallemand said the idea gives him pause. Some schools internationally are instructing students six days each week, he said, but possible budgetary savings give the notion some staying power.
"I’m not sure we have enough data to suggest that there’s much benefit to going to a four-day week, academically speaking. However, it’s worth looking into," Dallemand said.