Jennings, LA (KPEL News) - Nearly 900 school districts across 26 states have adopted a 4-day school week, and at least ten of them are in Louisiana. Two more are considering shifting to an abbreviated weekly calendar, and one of them is in Acadiana. 

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The reception from teachers and parents has been mixed, and most systems request input from both groups and other stakeholders before implementing the revised schedule. 

Why the change? 

Most of the districts fall in rural areas, and a need to decrease the costs incurred by school systems appears to be the driving factor. 

The teacher shortage is also driving the idea, as schools struggle to fill an inordinate number of classroom positions. The offer of a 4-day school week assumes a prominent position on the North Caddo Magnet High School’s recruiting information. 

Is a 4-day school week a good thing? 

The answer to that question depends on which research you trust and the date in which it was published. Interesting, the data varies slightly from 2011 and the data from 2023. 

Denise-Marie Ordway, a journalist with “The Journalist’s Resource,” compiled data from several sources and published the following conclusions: 

  • The amount of time students spend in class varies from state to state. 
  • Some schools offer less instructional time during a four-day school week than they did during a five-day week. 
  • There’s limited cost savings, considering employee salaries and benefits make up the bulk of school expenses. In a 2021 analysis, Thompson estimates schools save 1% to 2% by shortening the school week by a day. 
  • The impact of the condensed schedule differs depending on a range of factors, including the number of hours schools operate and how they structure their daily schedules. Recent research generally finds small drops in student achievement. 
  • Staff morale improved under a four-day school week. 
  • High school bullying and fighting declined. 

 Is it legal and how does the 4-day school week work? 

The Louisiana Revised Statute regarding school requirements is lengthy and, essentially, mandates that the school year for students in grades one through 12 must include 63,720 minutes per year. It allows schools to modify the number of days and the number of instructional minutes per day as long as the total number doesn’t fall below that threshold.  

The district calendars vary. Generally, most of them involve a 5-day week for a specified time at the beginning of the year, and then shift to the 4-day week. They typically begin a few minutes earlier and end later. 

Which school districts in Louisiana operate on a 4-day week? 

North Caddo Magnet High School is the only school in Caddo Parish where students report four days a week. 

Livingston Parish has been batting around the idea, as teacher morale is low. Classes ended a full week early in May of 2023 because teachers protested over a failed tax that would have funded pay raises.  

Jeff Davis Parish is now focusing on obtaining feedback from parents, teachers, and stakeholders as it considers an abbreviated schedule. School officials are requesting that interested parties complete the “Stakeholder Survey” as they investigate whether they, too, should move to the 4-day week. 

What’s the chatter? 

As you can imagine, results are mixed. Facebook has lit up with comments. 

One Acadia Parish resident remarked about the possibility of a 4-day week in Jeff Davis: 

In ward 5 we have had 4 day school week for 22 years and everyone loves it! This year we went from Friday’s off to Mondays off, and as opposed as I was at first, I really like the Monday off because having such busy weekends and church on Sundays it gives that extra day for us to rest! I hope everyone keeps an opened mind when filling out this form for Jeff Davis schools. 

A Jeff Davis Parish resident commented that providing childcare on the day off may present a financial challenge for parents: 

i think ppl are worried about child care on the day they work and kids are home. making special arrangements for holidays is one thing but having to look and pay for childcare on already a tight budget maybe harder. just one of the concerns i’ve heard about. 

Yet another parent praised the 4-day school week: 

This is our first year to attend a school that is 4 days a week & it has been life changing for our family in the best ways and ways I didn’t even realize  

A resident who, admittedly, doesn’t have children in school expressed her concern about children having an extra day off with no supervision: 

I personally feel this decision affects everyone in the Parish. An extra day off with nothing to do for some kids could cause problems. JMO 

Jeff Davis Parish School District scored a “B” on its system’s 2021-22 report card, with a performance score of 85.9. Their website indicates a 98% graduation rate. 

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Gallery Credit: Ryan Antoinette Valenzuela