While this is gaining traction nationally, one hundred fourteen school districts, constituting 64% of the 178 school districts in Colorado, plus one BOCES operated school and select schools of the Charter School Institute utilize the four-day school week as the structure for organizing their school year.
According to national and state data, prior to adopting a 4-day week program, when surveyed, students are 85% in favor, parents are nearly 70% in favor, and staff are over 90% in favor of 4-day instructional weeks. After adoption, data indicates students, parents and staff are over 95% in favor. In fact, in districts where the switch to 4-day instructional week has already occurred, it is viewed as very difficult to switch back.
If a 4-day week is approved by the VCS board, VCS West and VCS East would contract with an independent company to provide childcare on non-holiday Mondays such that VCS families could utilize a VCS approved childcare provider for a fee.
Research indicates there is no significant difference in educational outcome unless the change is made for a district or school cost cutting initiative resulting in significantly lower hours and pay. At VCS, the 4-day week is not being proposed as a money savings initiative. The VCS budget is not being cut, but in fact increased. Savings of 3% are expected in non-teaching areas such as utilities and janitorial service (4 days/week vs. 5 days week) allowing that money, approximately $500,000 per year, to instead be earmarked for instruction, extra staffing, enhanced curricula, tutoring, etc. Teacher and support staff professional development opportunities will also be increased by approximately 25%. VCS is anticipating that our educational program, as measured annually through state testing, will show improvement in growth and achievement.
Research indicates that student, teacher, support staff, and parent schedules allow for more flexibility, which leads to increased attendance in students and school staff. Absenteeism is significantly lower as pre-planned appointments, shopping, etc. can be done on the weekday without instruction. Based on research, it is also likely that student and staff retention will be increased, and that student and staff morale will be higher.
Actually, VCS instructional hours will be nearly identical. While students will be in school approximately 15 fewer days throughout the year, the altered schedule starting one week earlier with no Fall break, coupled with an additional 20 minutes to each school day comes out with a very slightly higher amount of yearly instructional time.
Similar to this year, VCS would continue this tremendous parent benefit free of charge from Tuesday through Friday for students in Kindergarten through 5th grade. 6th - 8th will be available for the 2022-23 school year for a fee.
Teachers will be trained in the new model, especially in the areas of lesson efficiency and assignment value. Slightly longer classes will allow for much traditional homework throughout the year to instead be started as classwork, with the intention of lowering the amount of nightly homework for all VCS grade levels.
Research indicates that students and teachers feel more rested and that sleep patterns are generally improved with the 4-day instructional model. Interestingly, clubs and sports programs appear to have more student interest, as well as follow-through with home chores and home responsibilities. It was also noted in the research that due to the extra day out of school, the student/parent bond was determined to be stronger. And of course, with 15 fewer days of driving for teachers, and fewer carpools for families, there is a positive environmental impact as well.