Four-Day Instructional School Weeks

Four-Day Instructional School Weeks

Sayler Beerwinkle, Editor

Springlake-Earth school district is considering the option of moving to a 4-day instructional school week. Several other schools, including Lockney, Motley County, Meadow, and Patton Springs have all transitioned to the 4-day week. There was a community meeting for stakeholders to ask questions held on Tuesday, February 8th, and another will take place on Wednesday, March 9th at 5:00 in the auditorium. 

About five years ago, the state of Texas transitioned the calendar from instructional days to instructional minutes, so school districts had to adapt and make changes. Then some smaller districts started to only go for four days out of the traditional five days. As the district looks into this option, Superintendent Dr. Denver Crum understands the necessity of stakeholder support.

“We will not move forward with this unless the community supports it,” Crum stated. “It is important to know that we are just looking into it, so a lot of the details, regarding how the length of the day, whether we will miss Monday or Friday, have not been worked out because we are still not to the step where we know that the community supports it.” 

The district has surveyed the community, held campus level meetings, as well as the public hearing. There were 130 plus people who attended the public meeting. 

“To put in perspective, a couple years back, we were looking at doing a TRE rollback election, and we had nine people show up,” Crum added. “So it was enormous turnout, which is great, we want our community to be informed and we want their input on whether we proceed or not.” 

According to Dr. Crum, there are several reasons why this movement is appealing and helpful to the teachers and to schools. State testing has become more rigorous, which has caused teachers to be extra busy.  

“It now takes teachers more time to understand the tests, to break it down and lesson plan and just importantly, go through benchmarking and testing and find out what each student’s weaknesses are,” Crum said. “TEKS, Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, are elements that comprise these state assessments, and breaking these down takes an enormous amount of time for teachers to understand that then to reapply it to their planning and into their lesson plans.” 

Junior Annabelle Anchondo states her opinion on the situation as a whole. 

“I see both sides, people who are for and people who are against, and considering everything, however, I think the four-day week would bring about some negative impacts,” Anchondo said. “Many students at SE participate in extracurricular activities or events that would prohibit them from having much needed time for other interests.” 

Anchondo also explained her reasoning as to why she is against this proposition. 

“People in extracurricular activities who have events during the school day would be missing more school than they already do which is taking away much needed teacher-student interaction,” Anchondo mentioned. “Not only that, but having the release time moved to later on in the day brings about many disadvantages for the students.” 

Similar to Anchondo, sophomore Emma Stevenson is against the idea of transitioning to the four-day instructional week. She thinks that the predicted release time would not be beneficial to her.

“I think going to school for a long time is going to be harder for younger kids,” Stevenson stated. “I don’t think they are truly leaving enough time for anything extracurricular in the schedule. If we’re going to get enough practice time during the week, it entails being out until 10pm everyday.”

On the other hand, counselor Derinda Carter is in favor of the four-day school week. She taught in Dora, New Mexico, retired, then was hired at SE. This is her third year here. 

“I taught at a 4-day week school for 20 years, and I loved it, there is nothing better,” Carter said. “You spend a little extra time each day, but having that day off just makes up for it so much. We got used to it fast, and even the students got used to it very quick.” 

At Dora, this shorter week helped increase employees as well as the student population. 

“We always had people coming, wanting jobs there and we had a line of people wanting to work there because of the four-day week,” Carter proclaimed. “We even had students want to come out there because of the four-day week.” 

This change would hopefully be used for appointments, and allow some stress-relief for teachers, custodians, and bus drivers.

“We see more and more kids that need to be out for different reasons like doctors appointments and different things, but maybe they’d be able to plan these things on the 5th day, when school is not in session,” Crum said. “We also see it as us having more of a struggle to get substitute teachers, custodians, and even bus drivers.”

Sophomore Lynnsey Mahler agrees with Carter and believes this change would be beneficial to the teachers and the rest of the school district.

“Teachers would be so grateful for an extra preparation, not only are the TEKS changing, but also the style of teaching,” Mahler said. “Nobody is assigned busy work anymore, instead the teachers have to formulate throughout the assignments to get us to pass the tests.”

Mahler is behind this change 100%, for the teachers’ sake.

“The teachers in the school do so much out of hours that they don’t have personal lives anymore,” Mahler said. “This would be a huge blessing that we are so thankful for.”

For teachers, the school day does not end when the 3:32 bell rings. They usually stay late and come to school on the weekends, too. 

“The 4-day week would give teachers extra planning time, so it’s not a day off for them,” Crum said. “They would have more ability to get their weekend back, if you will, and to plan. Or it can be more advantageous for students and families.”  

Another student, sophomore Xavyer Mosqueda, is in favor of the four-day week.

“So the four-day week would be very beneficial for both kids and students because kids will be more motivated to go to school on the days that they do have school since they have more weekend time,” Mosqueda said. “Also, kids will be able to get their homework done and not be pressured about homework deadlines.”

Crum is very adamant about making sure that the community is supportive of this idea before any changes take place.

“The surveys indicated that from the community, the big concern would be would this put some of our families at risk of not having child care on that 5th day,” Crum declared. “So we really want to make sure that we have this issue addressed because we don’t want this to create any kind of burden on our parents. If we can get these things done, we can move forward and that’ll be good.”

Principal Cindy Furr knows that whatever change takes place that the community and school district will work in collaboration to be successful.

“The four day week will work if we all work together, but so does the five day week,” Furr said. “All of us working together, focused on one goal. It is going to take all of us no matter what we do.”