Four-day school week proposed in Pulaski County: What are the pros and cons?

Local News

PULASKI COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) – It’s been a standard for years, but now Pulaski County Public Schools may be headed to a four-day school week.

According to Superintendent Dr. Kevin Siers, a four-day instruction week may entail an added hour to the school day, and weeks may run Monday through Thursday or Tuesday through Friday. Teachers may also be required to report to the school on a Friday or Monday of each month for professional development and faculty meetings.

There are currently 560 school districts in 25 states that have at least one school district using a four-day school week as opposed to a traditional five-day school week.

In Virginia Code § 22.1-79.1, individual schools can propose a change of schedule and a board has the authority to approve or deny the change “so long as a minimum of 990 hours of instructional time is provided for grades one through 12 and 540 hours for kindergarten.”

Pulaski County school board members are in constant discussions regarding the new proposal. But what are the pros and cons? Here’s a list of of advantages of disadvantages according to Dr. Siers.

Potential Advantages:

  • Improved student and employee attendance rates. Parents and teachers can schedule appointments for the day that school is not in session.
  • Teacher recruitment and retention.
  • Allows for regular teacher development activities and opportunities to collaborate.
  • Greater work-life balance for teachers.
  • Less wear and tear on buses.
  • Cost-effective. Savings range from .04%-2.5% ($200,000-$1,250,000 of the PCPS budget)
  • Some studies have shown a significant increase in student math achievement.
  • Students have more time to pursue outside interests. Public service projects for high school students can be scheduled during the off day, and it benefits students who are employed.

Potential Disadvantages:

  • Drop in student achievement. Some schools experienced a short term drop in student achievement during the first and second years of implementation.
  • Lack of childcare options for younger students on the days that school is not in session.
  • Negative financial impact on the school nutrition programs.
  • Fewer meals provided each to low-income students.
  • Increase in juvenile crime. Some studies indicate an increase in neighborhood juvenile crime on days when school is not in session.
  • Time needed to adapt to the longer instructional days.
  • Impact on extra-curricular activities. Less time for practices during the daylight hours and missing instructional time to travel to away events.

A public hearing is scheduled to Wednesday, March 4 at 6 p.m. for community feedback on the proposal.

There are currently no schools districts in Virginia that have a four-day school week.

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