The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

    Save cash-cut Mondays

    Lack of funding for schools across America is causing school districts to re-evaluate spending. Since demands for money have gone unmet, many schools are being forced to cut extracurricular programs and fire teachers. A district in Webster County, Ky. may have found the best fix for this problem-a four-day school week.
    The school board in Webster County awaits approval of a plan to condense the current five day school week, giving each student Monday off, while requiring that he stay an extra thirty minutes Tuesday through Friday.
    This change in schedule is expected to save nearly $300,000 for the district because of the decrease in use of bus services, substitute teachers and utilities.
    Though its primary purpose is to save the district money, the plan offers other benefits as well. With Mondays off, students are free to make all doctor and dentist appointments for this day, so they miss fewer classes. While children enjoy their extra day off, teachers have more time for planning and faculty meetings.
    Free Mondays also allow the district to easily schedule makeup days for bad weather. Many school officials also hope this free time can be used to tutor those children who may be struggling academically, thus boosting state test scores.
    This plan has been accepted by most whom it involves. The school board in Webster County approved the plan in a 3-1 vote.
    Though a clear majority are in favor of this solution to the problem, some worry the new schedule would negatively influence learning. Students will have longer weekends, which may lead to students retaining less information, while longer school days may make it difficult for some students to stay focused on academics.
    This is not true. Longer weekends would allow students to come back to school rested and prepared to focus. Longer school days provide more time for each subject, providing students with a better understanding of the curriculum.
    Others worry that the schedule will cause school staff like bus drivers to work less than the required 180 days to get retirement benefits. School officials say employee retirement benefits will not suffer.
    The main concern is for the students who will be left without care while parents are at work.
    The district is entertaining many solutions, including creating a program that allows high school students to become certified to care for younger students, while local churches and family service centers are creating programs to care for children on Mondays.
    The district even created a list of babysitters, all trained in CPR, for parents to call if they need childcare while they go to work.
    If approved by the Kentucky Department of Education, Webster County will be the first district with an altered schedule in the state. But this program has been going on in 100 districts nationwide, in states such as Colorado, Oregon, Louisiana and Arkansas.
    In Colorado, report cards showed no difference in achievement between the four-day-a-week schools and the five-day-a-week schools. This suggests that this altered schedule won’t hurt learning or student success.
    Costs for utilities and substitutes went down, both students and teachers missed less school and longer days allowed for more intense teaching.
    In a situation where a district lacking funds is faced with cutting important programs such as art and music and firing many qualified teachers and staff, alternatives must be entertained.
    If going to school one less day a week means that students get to keep their enriching activities and qualified administrators get to keep their jobs while saving the district money, then it is the right choice.
    It should pass not only in Webster County, but also in financially-struggling school districts everywhere.
    Shaina Hanson is a freshman political science major. She can be reached at [email protected].

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    Save cash-cut Mondays