- Associated Press - Monday, December 8, 2014

LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) - Teachers in northern Idaho are still working Fridays even though their school district has gone to a four-day school week.

Orofino School District officials switched to a Monday through Thursday to save money after facing severe funding cuts, the Lewiston Tribune (https://bit.ly/1qkwUvt ) reports. Twelve years later, teachers and families have found that having Friday free means more time for lesson planning and making medical appointments.

Superintendent Robert Vian says the school district cut as much as 15 percent of its budget by switching to a four-day week because it has reduced payroll, transportation and food service expenses.

Back in 2006, 10 out of 115 Idaho school districts operated on a four-day school week, according to the Idaho State Department of Education. Now there are more than 40.

“If we went out and voted, there would not be a very strong vote in favor of a five-day week,” Vian said. “Once you change, I don’t think you can ever go back.”

Four-day school weeks were a talking point throughout the midterm elections. Democratic opponents used the increase in schools slashing their school schedules as a sign that Idaho’s public education system is broken and drastically needs more funding. Republicans fired back saying that they would work to restore funding so that four-day school schedules would decline.

Over at the Highland School District, teachers are only required to work one Friday a month. However, Superintendent Brad Baumberger says most teachers show up every Friday anyway to catch up.

“Even though it’s a four-day week, the majority of our staff is here every Friday doing something pretty much about two-thirds of the day,” Superintendent Brad Baumberger said. “I think our staff likes it because it gives them a day to breathe and get things in line. Instead of working into the evening every night, they do it on Friday.”

Just east of Lewiston, Culdesac School Principal Shannon Morris said her school district has achieved a five-star rating by the state’s Department of Education despite switching to a four-day week. Five stars is the highest public school rating in Idaho.

While the students haven’t suffered, Morris said teachers have had to put in more time adjusting curriculum developed for a five-day week to a shorter one.

“A lot of the curriculum is developed for a five-day week, so the teachers have to do a lot of adjustments as far as making things work, which puts an added burden on them,” she said.

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Information from: Lewiston Tribune, https://www.lmtribune.com


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