More Colorado School Districts Adopting Four-Day Week

The Denver Post reports that since 2007, the number of Colorado school districts on a four-day schedule has grown by nearly 30 percent. Before the recession hit in 2007, 62 districts operated on a four-day schedule, that has increased by 18 districts to 80 districts in total. The Post’s report suggests that nearly all of the Colorado school districts that have adopted a four-day week are districts that serve rural communities. While the school week is cut by 1/5, the savings are surprisingly small, more from the report:

The savings, though, are less than you might think. A 20 percent reduction in school days seldom nets more than 2.5 percent slashed from the overall budget, according to a national study by senior policy analyst Michael Griffith of the Denver-based Education Commission of the States.

The vast majority of school spending goes to educator pay and benefits. None of the districts surveyed reduced those because instructional staff was required to work the same number of hours across the school year. Despite relatively meager savings, percentage-wise, some districts jumped at the chance to avoid losing teaching positions.

The Education Commission of the States’ report estimates that the average school district could save at most 5.4 percent in their overall budget by moving from a five to four-day school week. The report decomposes this estimate showing that while instruction makes up 60.8 percent of the average district’s budget, since teachers will still work the same amount of hours in four instead of five days, savings for instruction are estimated at 0.03 percent. Higher, yet still meager, savings could come from operations and maintenance (9.7 percent of the budget and a max 1.4 percent savings), school administration (5.6 and 1.1 percent), student support (5.4 and 1.0 percent), transportation (4.3 and 0.8 percent), food services (3.8 and 0.8 percent), and other support (3.2 and 0.4 percent).

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