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DayeTime: Midterm grades for 4-day school week

A few short months ago a board that for decades was known for its “that’s the way we’ve always done it” attitude turned the local public school district on its ear by adopting a 4-day school week.

There was moaning, groaning, wailing and gnashing of teeth from parents faced with an extra day of childcare costs for those hours they are at work and the child “should” be in school.

There was concern expressed about children getting home after sundown due to the school days being extended by an hour and some bus routes running over an hour to get young children home from school.

In the beginning there were promises of (a) savings, (b) reduced teacher absences, (c) reduced student absences, (d) improved recruiting and retention of certified teachers.

There was hope that the longer school days and “day of rest” for students would improve academic results.

There are some preliminary results on the first four. We won’t know about the academic results until this year’s state scores are reported early next school year.

The first semester report card on the four-day week is a mixed bag -- kind of like that middle schooler of yours with an A in math and a D in English.

It seems to have delivered on its recruitment promise. We won’t know about retention until the end of the school year.

Will the promise of a three-day weekend every school week be enough to pass up an opportunity to earn $5,000 or more within an hour of their front door -- especially if they would be getting home about the same time, even with the commute, because of the longer day?

We’ll see.

Teacher absences? Also a good grade. There are fewer teacher absences, even with there being more certified teachers, than last year.

Fears that some teachers had a chronic case of “Friday flu” that would carry over into the four-day week -- turning their three-day weekend into a four-day break -- seems to have been misplaced.

Not so with students. The absence rate is about the same as it was under the five-day school week.

That really shouldn’t be a surprise. If students are absent because they are sick or otherwise unable to attend school, absences should be about the same.

Granted, there are only four days to spread out those absences.

To get a clearer picture of the pattern of absences would require a study examining the number of absences on each school day -- Monday-Friday of last year and Tuesday-Friday of this year.

I have two grandchildren -- one in elementary and one in high school -- who have no complaints with the long day or with having Monday off.

The adults in the house have also not voiced any complaints.

Proponents of the four-day week had said parents would get used to the new schedule and adapt.

Will this be a one-year experiment that will be shelved next summer? Stay tuned for more on that subject this spring, when the School Board discusses and adopts the 2020-21 school calendar.

Dauzat told board members he will give them a monthly update on the four-day school week to help them make that decision.

Consider this a reminder that anything that is done can be undone. All it takes is five votes on a 9-member School Board.

If you want the 4-day week “undone,” tell your board member.

If you like the new schedule, you better tell your board member so your vote can cancel the parents that want it ended.

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MARKSVILLE WEEKLY

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