- Associated Press - Sunday, January 15, 2017

GRANBY, Mo. (AP) - East Newton school district officials are considering whether the southwest Missouri district should join 18 others that have converted to a four-day school week.

Superintendent Todd McCrackin said the district, which has about 1,325 students, is considering the change because it is expecting a $350,000 drop in its budget next year, The Joplin Globe reported (http://bit.ly/2ikbn6m).

Nine of the 18 districts using the four-day week adopted it for this year to cut their budgets. This year, Missouri had a $398 million gap between what was allocated to schools and what the school funding formula required.

“That’s probably a little bit of a combination of the state budget not looking real promising and the fact that we have seen a decline in our enrollment, and thus our state payment is going to be less based on our attendance number,” McCrackin said.

The plan would be to eliminate all Monday classes and add 30 minutes to an hour of instructional time to the other days. It would save an estimated $130,000 a year in utility costs and substitute teacher pay.

The Board of Education received information about a four-day school week in November and a survey found about 66 percent of the staff supported the idea, he said.

Missouri districts began adopting four-day weeks in 2011 when the Legislature changed the minimum school requirement from 174 days to 1,044 hours. Adding the extra time to each school day would meet the 1,044 threshold.

Jyl Augspurger, Granby K-4 Intermediate School principal, said the shorter week likely would reduce absences and help with teacher recruitment. McCrackin said the extra day off will likely attract more candidates with better qualifications to the rural school.

The two top concerns McCrackin has heard involve student achievement and child care for Mondays. He said research suggests student achievement is neutral or slightly increased but it’s hard to measure because new state tests were given last spring and new state tests will be given in 2018.

Other districts have found child care isn’t an issue because parents will have a more consistent schedule without random days off or early out days, McCrackin said.

The district has not determined how the change would affect after-school activities and practices.

McCrackin hopes to have a final decision by February. If the change is approved, it would start in August.

The Lexington School District in Lafayette County, east of Kansas City, is the only Missouri district to revert back to a five-day school week after a two-year trial of the four-day week. Officials said student achievement or teacher retention didn’t improve and the budgetary gains were smaller than expected.

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Information from: The Joplin (Mo.) Globe, http://www.joplinglobe.com

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