In recent years, school districts throughout the country have adopted a four-day school week, CBS News reported.
Starting in the fall, the 14,000 students in Independence, Missouri will attend school Tuesday through Friday, making it the largest district in Missouri to adopt the change.
Superintendent Dale Herl told CBS News that the district spend months preparing for the shift to a 4-day week. To continue to comply with the state’s requirements for instruction time, the district is adding 35 minutes to each school day.
Herl explained that the additional time will keep the total instructional minutes “almost exactly the same.”
To accommodate working parents, the school district will provide childcare on Mondays for $30 a day.
The number of school districts with a 4-day school week climbed from 650 in 2020 to 876 this year.
While the 4-day school week is favored more by smaller, rural school districts, some larger districts are also shifting to the shorter academic week as a way to attract and retain teachers during the current national teacher shortage.
Herl told CBS News that since the district shifted to a 4-day week, the number of applicants for teaching positions increased “more than four-fold.”
Professor Aaron Pallas from Columbia’s Teachers College told CBS News that it is still too early to know the academic impact of shifting to a 4-day week.
However, Pallas argued that there are more effective ways to deal with the current teacher shortage than dropping to a 4-day week.
Pallas told CBS News that the best way to attract teachers is to pay them more. He argued that teacher salaries in Missouri are among the lowest in the country.
Before the 2022/23 academic year, about 25 percent of Missouri schools had shifted to a 4-day academic week as a way to attract teachers. The state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education reported in June that 144 Missouri school districts were on a 4-day academic schedule.