A Colorado school district announced Monday it will move to a four-day school week for the upcoming calendar year.
Colorado School District 27J, which serves 18,000 students in the Denver metropolitan area, hopes that nixing Monday classes will save the district around $1 million in transportation, utilities and substitute teacher costs, as well as providing a boost to student and teacher morale.
“We’re confident it’s going to attract teachers and keep them,” District Superintendent Chris Fielder told KUSA.
“I haven’t had teachers say that this is a horrible idea.”
The schedule change means that students will only be in class for 149 days, according to the district’s calendar, far fewer than the 180-day school year typically required by public schools in most states.
Fielder told parents in February the district will accommodate for lost classroom time by extending school hours on the days class is in session.
The school district saw a surge of applicants wanting to teach at its schools in April by teachers enticed by the prospect of a four-day work week. Summer vacation for all of June and July for teachers and students appears to be untouched by the change, according to the district calendar.
“Who doesn’t want that?” one applicant told KUSA in April. “I really think what 27J is doing is going to be so helpful. It’s going to be great and I just think the kids are going to love it.”
Fielder said teachers will only have to work one Monday a month, for only half a day.
“We really feel like Monday is the day to prepare and to be better for kids,” he said. “This will give people a chance to have a weekend and then come in on Monday — whether they’re paid to or not because they’re doing that work anyway to be prepared for kids and to be better for kids.”
While teachers are reportedly thrilled about the change, many parents are concerned about finding and paying for child care on Mondays.
The district’s chief academic officer, Will Pierce, acknowledged in February that the transition to a four-day school week will disproportionately affect low-income families.
“I’m curious about what that off day causes,” Pierce told The Denver Post. “What if … you have two people who have to work to pay the bills? What do those kids do on Mondays?”
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