- Associated Press - Sunday, June 21, 2015

GROUSE CREEK, Utah (AP) - A small rural school in a ranching community in the northwest corner of the state is set to begin a four-day school week, a move that three other outlying counties in the state have already adopted.

The switch allows students and families to make long-distance trips for doctor’s appointments, shopping and extracurricular activities, The Standard Examiner reports (http://bit.ly/1Lg9kc9).

The state board of education unanimously approved the change Friday, and Box Elder County schools can now put together the new schedule to start in the fall.

There was little conversation about the topic before it passed, Utah State Office of Education spokesman Mark Peterson said. The school day will be lengthened by 45 minutes to reach the required amount of instructional time for the entire school year.

Box Elder County schools Superintendent Ron Tolman said he recently met with almost all of the parents and they believe the condensed school week will be helpful, the Standard-Examiner reports.

Grouse Creek is a small ranching community about 215 road miles from Salt Lake City. The community is so small that there is one school for kindergarten through 10th grade. Junior and senior high schoolers have the option of finishing school at home or living with friends or family in a city with a high school.

“Because of the uniqueness of the school, with just eight to 10 students in a very rural ranching background, we have difficulty attracting, sometimes, a teacher,” Tolman said. “Being off Fridays would allow long-distance shopping, and dentist and doctor appointments. … It would promote, probably, better attendance for both students and teachers.”

The Tintic School District, Rich County School District and Tabiona School all run on four-day weeks.

The four-day structure is reviewed every three years to check on student progress. If it is negatively affected, the waiver will not be approved.

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