Homedale school board OKs four-day school week

HOMEDALE, Idaho (KBOI) -- Homedale School District will be cutting out one day of its week. The district says a four-day week could save taxpayers $40,000 to $70,000 a year.

The struggling district says saving money was the initial draw to making the switch, but Superintendent Rob Sauer says after researching other districts with four-day weeks, he sees the possibility of better learning opportunities.

The board voted to approve the new schedule Monday night.

"We currently have 39 districts around the state that are on a four-day week," Sauer said. "They're doing a lot of really good things, especially extra help and enrichment for their students and professional development for their staff."

If Homedale were to make the switch, the school week would run Monday through Thursday, with a little over an extra hour tacked on each day to make up for Fridays. Sauer says he believes longer days would be beneficial.

"Students really just get in to a project or an activity or a science experiment, and it's time to clean up and go," Sauer said. "But if they're able to extend that and utilize that time, then that's a benefit to the students."

Students could also come in some Fridays for extra help if they need it, and teachers would get about one extra planning day a month. Sauer says with Common Core now a part of his district, that extra time is needed.

"Our teachers need more support in the implementation of those standards," he said. "If we can utilize that time more efficiently and not reduce our instructional hours, but then also provide extra help for our teachers as well as our students, we think that's a positive opportunity for us."

Sauer says the change could come at the expense of hourly employees like bus drivers and cafeteria workers, because they'd take a hit in hours with one less day for bus routes and lunches every week. But Sauer says the district might be able to find other small, supplementary jobs for them.

Sauer says opponents are also concerned about children on free and reduced lunch, because there would be one less day of meals. But, he says the district would work to compensate by giving those kids more food for the weekends through its backpack program.