No Florida Schools Take Up Four Day Weeks
A push to allow school districts to have a four-day week with longer days was successfully passed by the Legislature this past year, but school districts are now saying “no thanks.”
According to the Florida Department of Education, not a single school district has decided to take advantage of the new law that would allow school districts to meet an hourly requirement equivalent to 180 school days.
The bill had been pushed by the school superintendents, and lawmakers said it would provide flexibility to schools who may be facing a time crunch or may want to save money by only going to school four day per week. But they also acknowledged that a four day week would likely face a push back from many parents who would be faced with providing child care for an extra day and thus unexpected costs.
Some groups and teachers also raised questions over whether it would really save money because schools would still have to operate for the same number of hours overall, just on a Monday through Thursday schedule. It was also unclear on how it might affect school bus drivers who often work second jobs and whose schedules could be drastically overhauled under a longer school day.
“There were some problems with it,” said Mark Pudlow, a spokesman for the Florida Education Association.
Bill Montford, chief executive officer of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents, said the goal was to give superintendents the most flexible options for the upcoming school year, particularly at a time when schools, like other government entities, are struggling financially.
Though per pupil spending has risen slightly for the 2009-2010 school year over the pervious year, some schools are still struggling. Many districts were required to layoff teachers and other support personnel
Montford said in the end, most districts felt that a longer day, four times per week would not be academically sound for students. He said the association would ideally like to see a longer school year and longer days so that they could provide more instruction to students. However, the fiscal realities would not support that plan.
“So hopefully we'll get to the point where we can make these decisions where we decide what is best for students academically and not financially,” Montford said.