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Arkansas district will discuss moving to 4-day school week

The Lincoln, Arkansas, school district is considering moving to a four-day school week. The proposal is designed to help retain teachers, amongst other things.

An Arkansas school district is scheduled Monday to discuss moving to a four-day school week.

Lincoln Schools Superintendent Mary Ann Spears said the proposal is designed to, among other things, help attract and retain teachers for its 1,065 students.

"We have teachers that drive in from Lowell and Bentonville and spend an hour on the road each way getting to us," Spears said. "That’s part of the piece of this. If we can do something a little bit differently and structure ourselves differently, hopefully we can recruit and retain more teachers."

Spears said such a move could also help improve staff and student attendance, cut the dropout rate, improve district culture and climate, financial savings, increase enrollment and increase or at least maintain student achievement, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

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The district is proposing to have school Tuesday through Friday and add about an hour and 20 minutes to each day, with the extra time placed on both ends of a school day. The district is required to have 1,800 minutes of instruction per week, and these minutes would be spread out over four days instead of five, Spears said.

Spears said teachers at all three of its schools have indicated they support a four-day week, and staff overwhelmingly preferred Monday as the day off. Schools would use some Mondays as professional development days for teachers and as teacher-parent conference days.

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Monday makes the most sense because it’s the heaviest day for student and teacher absences, Spears said. In addition, having Mondays off would allow teachers and parents to schedule appointments, provide more family time and possibly provide more job opportunities for high school students.

Spears said concerns with a four-day week, some of which were expressed by parents at the forums, included the fact that younger students would have longer school days. Working parents would have to figure out child care on Mondays, and students from homes in need would have fewer school meals with a four-day week.

The Lincoln School District will vote on the proposal at the next board meeting Monday at 5 p.m.

In Arkansas, 29 school districts -- including Atkins, Bigelow, Bismarck, Mayflower, Kirby, Trumann, Cutter-Morning Star and Perryville -- use a four-day week and others are looking at the option for next year, Spears said.

In all, she said, more than 1,600 districts in 25 states use a four-day school week.

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