Four-day school week, longer school days: thoughts? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 01-24-2014, 09:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Our local school is entertaining proposals for a 4-day school week. Why? Well, we have an extremely small school (92 students, K-12) and with budgetary squeezes there's a lurking fear of school closure: moving these kids to the next-nearest school would add 1.5 hours of travel to their days. The teachers, some members of the PTA and the administration consider four-day schooling to be a realistic cost-saving measure, since busing, utilities, administrative and support staff costs and a few other line items would be reduced. 

 

The school day would likely be extended from 5 hours of instruction spread over 6 hours (1 recess plus lunch) to 5 hours and 50 minutes of instruction spread over 7 hours (2 recesses plus lunch). So basically from 9 to 4. The furthest-away kids would catch the bus at 7:48 and be dropped off home at 4:50. 

 

Some of the arguments against:

 

  • All-day kindergarten is already too long, and extending the day by an hour is ridiculous for 4- and 5-year-olds. (Our cutoff is "five years old by December 31," so a proportion of our KG'ers are 4 at the beginning of the year.)
  • With the school day being that long it's hard to fit in extra-curriculars without burning kids out. (We don't have many extra-curriculars available here, being such a small community; when kids do get involved in something it often means driving out of town, which might mean leaving for skating right after school and not getting home until 8 or 9)
  • What about daycare for younger kids whose parents work a traditional M-F 9-5 work week?
  • The teens will just have three party nights every weekend.
  • Kids will never learn to deal with a 5-day workplace schedule if they don't get used to it in school.

 

Some of the arguments for:

 

  • If we manage to keep the school open with this, we're keeping our community alive and saving our kids 8 hours a week on a bus
  • More family time, especially for the self-employed, part-timers and shift-workers. 
  • The flexibility to devote a weekday each week to extra-curriculars, including out-of-town ones.
  • Flexibility to travel and take long weekends for family things, camping, skiing etc. (this area is rife with inexpensive back-country recreation opportunities).
  • Getting more bang for the buck out of the long-ish bus rides some kids are already having to make.
  • The addition of the afternoon recess would be beneficial

 

We wouldn't be the first school in our region to try this and it apparently has worked well in other places. People seem to have very strong feelings about it in our community with many people vehemently opposed because they believe there's no way kids will cope with 7-hour days. I'm curious whether a 7-hour school day is really that unusual and that unmanageable.

 

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#2 of 13 Old 01-24-2014, 06:19 PM
 
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7 hours isn't such a stretch in our area. In my area high school is 6 hours and 55 minutes... lunch but no recess. The middle school is 6 hours and 45 minutes with a 40 minute lunch... no recess. The elementary is 6 hours and 35 minutes with a 40 minute lunch and one 15-minute recess. I know the kindergarteners go 10 minutes less and have 1 lunch, 2 recesses and a rest period. District preschool and Early Admission Kindergarten for 4 hours. My own kids haven't had any issue with it.

 

Personally, I would LOVE a 4 day school week. Just love it. The kids would too. Then again, I don't have to worry about childcare. I know plenty of families that would revolt on this issue alone. Our schools after-care programs are often full until closing at 6pm with some of those kids having been dropped off a 6am. I'm not saying that's a good thing of course or holding the fact that there are children pulling 12 hour days at school in our area as an example of what kids can comfortably take. Just sharing the schedule.

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#3 of 13 Old 01-24-2014, 06:58 PM
 
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Considering the choices of additional busing or longer local school day, I would certainly opt for the longer day, especially since they are adding in extra recess time.It might be considered to change the kindergarten cut-off to the first day of the first month of school, to help with the young kindergartners problem. 

 

I don't share the concern about "getting used to" a 5 day work week. 


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#4 of 13 Old 01-24-2014, 08:00 PM
 
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My youngest kiddo goes to a slightly bigger K-12 school (245 ish) so we have staggered start times and no buses but he has always gone to school for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week. The younger grades use the hours to really get into their subject matters and the 6th and above take a week at a time three times a year for "intensives" where they either go on an adventure trip or intently study on area of about 15 to choose from. He goes to an experiential school. His brother at the "traditional" high school, has some kids that get bussed down from the mountains for almost 2 hours and they start at 7:40 and end at 3:20 4 days a week. Wednesday is a shorter school day but only if they don't need to ride the bus.
So I see pluses and minuses to the plan. But I only go to work 4 days week so that one is a little nuts ;-)
I think to save a small community school I would try and make the 4 day week work, even for the littles.
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#5 of 13 Old 01-24-2014, 09:20 PM
 
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I'd be for it under the circumstances.

Getting ready for the 5 day work week is a little silly. They're getting closer to the 8 hour work day so you're halfway there ;-P. It's also possible and sometimes advisable to do a 4 day/ week college program to help find a part time job.
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#6 of 13 Old 01-24-2014, 10:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FarmerMomma View Post

They're getting closer to the 8 hour work day so you're halfway there ;-P. 

 

Awesome comeback! I'll be keeping that one in my back pocket.

 

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#7 of 13 Old 01-24-2014, 10:18 PM
 
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I just wanted to add that the childcare issue would work itself out. If the public school cut a day, the community and employers would know about it. Accommodations would need to be made. People would start Friday full-day care options in their immediate communities. I could understand the expense argument but the "care" argument doesn't really stand. Then again, you are in a small community. Maybe I'm wrong.


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#8 of 13 Old 01-25-2014, 05:14 AM
 
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Our elementary schools are about 6 hours 40 minutes. I think the kids would be fine for 20 more minutes.
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#9 of 13 Old 01-25-2014, 06:44 AM
 
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My kid's elem school is from 8am-3pm 5 days a week. We are there by 7:45am, because I drop off the PK kid first in the back building and then take the girls to their classrooms, the bell rings at 7:55 and they need to be in the rooms then, the front door locks after that. They get two 15 minute recesses and one 15 minute lunch. K and PK are the same hours. This isn't an "extended" school day but just a regular one here. 

 

A neighboring school district has been doing 4 days weeks for a fewf years now for budget reasons. Savings on bussing, heating, etc... has made it worth their while. They have Fridays off and a lot of community programs ended up stepping up to provide activities and child care for that day. It is a rural, small town community. I think they go from 8-4pm. 


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#10 of 13 Old 01-25-2014, 07:05 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

People seem to have very strong feelings about it in our community with many people vehemently opposed because they believe there's no way kids will cope with 7-hour days.

Going to a 4-day school week would add 1 hour to the kids' day 4 days a week. But having to be bussed to a further school would add 1.5 hours to the kids's day 5 days a week. So if parents are worried about kids coping with a longer day, the 4-day school week is still the better option.

Under the circumstances of your town, I would be all for the 4-day school week.
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#11 of 13 Old 01-25-2014, 11:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by limabean View Post

Going to a 4-day school week would add 1 hour to the kids' day 4 days a week. But having to be bussed to a further school would add 1.5 hours to the kids's day 5 days a week. So if parents are worried about kids coping with a longer day, the 4-day school week is still the better option.

 

I totally agree. But at this point no one is in a position to come out and say "It's a four-day week, or else the school closes." The teachers and the principal and the PAC are looking at the long-term trend of declining enrolment and the reality of budgetary constraints, and are strategizing that a 4-day week would help justify keeping the school open the next time the School District Board looks for ways to slash costs. We have an interim Superintendent who is very sympathetic to our school, so for the 18 months we are probably safe from closure.

 

The other muddying factor is that there is a cluster of about 1/4 of the school population who live between the current school and the next-nearest school such that their bus ride would only increase by about 10 minutes per trip if the current school closed. For them the busing argument isn't as clear-cut.

 

Thanks to all who have piped up about the length-of-school-day issue. It seems like 6 to 6.5 hours is pretty standard for elementary kids, with less than an hour of that for lunch/breaks. We'd be looking at 7 hours, with an hour and 20 minutes of that being break-time. Also, half an hour of the instructional day is mandated for PE, every day for all kids. That certainly helps make a long day more manageable.

 

Changing the age cut-off for enrolment is not possible, since that is defined by law at a provincial level. 

 

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#12 of 13 Old 01-25-2014, 09:00 PM
 
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My dd went to a school that did four days a week for a year and a half and the intensity was too much for her. She prefers the five days. There were other problems with the school that may contribute to this happiness though. I don't know if this is a coincidence or not but since switching to a five day a week school she had been much healthier and hasn't had strep.
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#13 of 13 Old 01-25-2014, 09:26 PM
 
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My only school aged child (6 yo DD) goes to a four-day-a-week school, which runs from 8 am to 3:30, M-Th. I personally like it because we can do things like go to the zoo or museums on Friday when most other students are still in school, so it's not as crowded. Plus, if we were in that place in life where we could take weekend trips, we'd have a three day weekend every weekend. Yes, it does get hectic M-Th, and I've haven't figured out how to do church youth group yet with this schedule, but I still like it.


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