- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 4, 2015

APACHE JUNCTION, Ariz. (AP) - A suburban Phoenix school district is responding to a projected budget shortfall by switching switch to a four-day school week in the fall.

The Apache Junction Unified School District board’s 4-1 vote Tuesday night to close schools on Fridays while lengthening schools on Monday through Thursday each week follows a similar move by another financially strapped Pinal County district, Coolidge Unified.

Meanwhile, Peoria Unified on the other side of the metro area from Apache Junction is also considering a switch to a four-day week to save money.

Apache Junction board members said the decision was difficult and caused them to lose sleep.

Besides switching to a four-day school week, the Apache Junction district also plans to increase class sizes and close an elementary school to close its projected $2.7 million budget shortfall.

Apache Junction Unified is one of several Phoenix-area districts that are reducing their budgets in the wake of voters’ rejections of budget overrides in recent years. Apache Junction voters in November rejected a $3.5 million, or 15 percent, budget override. They also turned down a similar request in 2010.

The latest defeat put the district in financial crisis after years of reduced state education funding, Superintendent Chad Wilson said. The district serves 4,700 students.

The school to be closed likely will be rented out to a community group to generate more revenue.

Wilson said its teachers would be absorbed within the district and none would be laid off.

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