Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

February 15, 2014

Another View: School week should be a local decision

As long as school districts make sure academic achievement is the primary goal, the state shouldn’t discourage four-day school weeks.

If school districts find that four-day weeks work well for their students and families, and students perform as well as they should academically, then school officials should have the right to implement the schedule.

The Minnesota Department of Education is pressuring districts that have four-day weeks to resume five-day weeks in the future and is discouraging other districts from seeking approval of a four-day schedule.

No school superintendent or school board would consider such a drastic change without serious contemplation. Not only that, but districts that proceed in the process of changing to a shorter week have to totally redo teacher contracts and gain approval from each employment group. On top of that, they have to hold not one, not two, but three public hearings before going to a four-day week.

So districts that have made the schedule change have studied the options seriously and discussed it with the families in their enrollment area. That’s what local control is all about. If these districts have gone through the correct channels and gathered the feedback needed to make an informed decision, then they should have the right to set the schedule that works best for their districts.

Yes, for most districts, the decision is tied to saving money. That’s a good thing coming from local government. Buses are expensive to run with diesel costing about $3.90 or so a gallon recently. It’s no surprise that a district that is geographically large will save a good deal of money by not busing students at least one day a week, such as in northern Minnesota’s Lake County. The school district there saves about $250,000 a year by having a four-day school week, Minnesota Public Radio News reports.

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