Archive for August 6, 2008

Four Day School Weeks?

August 6, 2008

Though unlikely to happen in Caddo or Bossier, at least one Parish in Louisiana will have a four day week this year. On each of the last two days, I had a conversation about that idea with some higher ups in my own parish. Both loved it, saying the move would save a boatload of money, but they also said our local board would never approve a four day week because they don’t want to upset parents by taking away the fifth day of free baby sitting.

I’m ambivalent.

As for the cost savings, I really do not know how to calculate them. Sure, the parish saves money on gas for the buses, food for the students, and utilities at the schools. But many parents now have to pay for another day of child care. Given that the parish’s money is really the parent’s, shouldn’t the savings of the former be offset by the increased costs passed on to the latter?

The extra day away from school would be nice, but the later end of the remaining school days would cut into time for homework and extracurriculars. And does anyone really think the students would use the extra day away to catch up? Then again, some claim that four day weeks lead to better test scores.

For some parents, this might help with after school care, as the kids would now get home at about the same time as the parents. But then you have to add the new day off. The kids would also be away from home for large portions of the four days, eliminating free time with family, friends and non-school activities. But they also get another whole day off.

I dunno. This sounds to me like many other debates in education. Really just two different ways of doing the same thing. Still, if I had to pick one side, I think I would pick the standard five day week. Why? Suppose a parish settled on a four day week. They save money. All goes well. Then five or ten years down the road, when these gas prices start to seem normal, someone is going to suggest returning to the five day week. They are also going to suggest keeping the longer days, because, hey, the kids learned so much more. Then we’ll have all problems of the four day week, but none of the benefits.