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Troy to consider four-day school week

by DERRICK PERKINS
Daily Inter Lake | February 11, 2022 7:00 AM

The Troy Public School Board will consider the adoption of a four-day week for the next school year when it meets on Feb. 14.

Superintendent Jacob Francom said the district has implemented a four-day schedule in the spring for about five years. This past fall, officials tried the condensed classroom schedule as well, dropping it only in October.

“We have four days a week this year in the fall and the spring, and we have a lot of people in the community saying, ‘We like this’ in the spring,” Francom said. “Now they’re saying, ‘Why don’t we go four days a week all the time?’”

Administrators have posted information about the potential calendar change, which would take effect in the 2022-23 school year, on the district’s Facebook page. Francom said he knew the four-day a week schedule in the spring was popular, but he was still pleased to see positive feedback on local social media.

“I was surprised, though not too surprised, that most of the comments on Facebook are pretty positive,” he said.

Among the informational sheets made publicly available, one includes perceived pros and cons with the change. Among the expected benefits: improved teacher recruitment, cost savings, higher morale among students and staff, and increased attendance for teachers and pupils.

The document suggests Fridays could be used for professional development for teachers. Students could spend the day undergoing tutoring and participating in school activities, potentially freeing up Saturdays to be spent with the family.

As for cons, the document notes that the increased time spent in classrooms on the four remaining days of the week often are criticized as difficult for students, particularly those in elementary grades.

Under the proposed changes, the school day for elementary students would begin at 7:50 a.m. and end at 3:40 p.m. The day for junior high and high school students begins at 7:50 a.m. and ends at 3:45 p.m.

The document also suggests extracurricular activities could suffer as a result of the new schedule. And it highlights difficulty parents might face in finding childcare or activities for their children on Fridays.

“Four-day school weeks can also pose a challenge to families who are unable to find affordable, enriching care arrangements on the fifth weekday,” the document reads. “Further, students who are food insecure may not have access to sufficient meals during the off day. If optional activities are offered by schools on the fifth day, lack of transportation could limit access.”

Francom acknowledged those concerns in an interview last week. He said that studies of four-day weeks show mixed results, some indicating academic improvement while others suggest the benefit is minimal.

The switch in schedules largely depends on the wants and needs of the community, he said.

“It’s really what the community wants, what the best fit is for the needs of family and community,” Francom said. “A lot of parents like to have the kid home if one or both are not working.”