Will the five-day school schedule go the way of the 8-track tape? A recent article on Yahoo! Parenting introduced readers to a district in rural Georgia that instituted a four-day, Tuesday-Friday schedule, six years ago and apparently they have had some success. They claim student test scores have increased and the district is saving money. They also haven’t had to cut electives, like other schools due to budgetary problems. They even claim students return from their three-day hiatus refreshed! There’s also fewer absences. For example, a parent can schedule a doctor’s appointment on Monday, rather than taking the child out of school during the other days when school is in session.
As a mother, I starting thinking about the pros and cons of a four-day schedule. On the surface, it seems like a good idea. The day is extended to make up for the time missed on Mondays. So the students aren’t missing any instructional time. The biggest problem I have is the issue of child care. My son is old enough to stay home alone, so I don’t have the same concerns many parents have. Also, I’ve been lucky that since he’s been in school, I’ve mainly worked freelance so I’ve been home and haven’t had to worry about daycare, school closings and summer vacations. The times I have worked outside the home, I’ve worked part-time hours and was always off in time to pick him up from school. And when he was home from school, I generally brought him to work with me or I worked at home. But again, I was fortunate to be in a position to do so.
If this became the norm, many parents would have problems finding day care for that one day off. Of course, I suppose there’s bound to be agencies and centers that would pick up the slack and offer childcare for Monday’s only but that’s an added expense parents may not be able to afford.
If I had to vote today on whether this is a good idea for my son’s school, I would have to vote against it. When my son is home, I have to adjust my work schedule. I would essentially lose a full day of uninterrupted work time. I can deal with it on an intermittent basis but when I work a four-day week, I do it because it’s what I choose to do….I wouldn’t want the choice made for me. Although I have enjoyed sleeping late, I’m looking forward to school starting next week so that I can get back on a regular work schedule (without the constant interruptions of “What’s for lunch?” or “You wanna play some cards?” or “Can we go to the movies?”).
This is not a new issue. Other school districts have previously instituted four-day schedules. I believe, over time, more will at least consider doing so. Now, if we could institute a universal four-day school and work week, I could be persuaded to change my mind.
Myra Faye Turner, Writer