NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Facing Budget Woes, Some School Districts Adopt Four-Day Week

December 27, 2002

A number of school districts -- particularly in the rural West -- are shutting down on Fridays to conserve funds. While there are no large-scale studies yet of the educational impart of the shortened week, Colorado officials say there is no evidence learning has suffered.

  • More than 100 school districts in seven states -- Oregon, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, South Dakota, Arkansas and Louisiana -- are using a four-day week this year.
  • Districts in an additional half-dozen states are considering similar plans.
  • Those familiar with such plans say the schools realize an immediate savings of 20 percent in food services budgets and transportation costs -- as well as some savings in energy and custodial costs.
  • Some schools make up the lost classroom time by adopting a 7.5 hour day Mondays through Thursdays in lieu of the normal six hour day.

Such programs have their drawbacks as well as benefits, students and teachers report.

Attendance is improved because parents schedule doctor and dentist appointments on Friday -- rather than yanking their children out of class during the regular week. But the lengthened school days sometimes leave younger children exhausted and older children who participate in sports and other activities may not arrive home until 7:30 or so in the evening.

Source: T.R. Reid, "Seven States Adopt Four-Day School Week," Washington Post, December 26, 2002.


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