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More Schools Go To 4-Day Week To Cut Costs

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the education-has-a-poor-compression-ratio dept.

Education 614

Hugh Pickens writes "As schools return to session in South Dakota, more than one-fourth of students in the state will only be in class from Monday through Thursday as budget constraints lead school districts to hack off a day from the school week. Larry Johnke, superintendant of the Irene-Wakonda school district, says the change will save his schools more than $50,000 per year. In order to make up for the missing day, schools will add 30 minutes to each of the other four days and shorten the daily lunch break. 'In this financial crisis, we wanted to maintain our core content and vocational program, so we were forced to do this,' says Johnke. Experts say research is scant on the effect of a four-day school week on student performance, but many of the 120 districts that have the shortened schedule nationwide say they've seen students who are less tired and more focused, which has helped raise test scores and attendance. Others say that not only did they fail to save a substantial amount of money by being off an extra day, they also saw students struggle because they weren't in class enough and didn't have enough contact with teachers."

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I can see it now... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37189730)

I'll bet anyone a pound of donuts the teachers union will begin clamoring for *more* money since the teachers are being forced to work a longer workday - even though they'll be getting an extra day off. "Oh, no! We're not getting an extra day off. We plan and create curriculum and go to in-service sessions and...and...and...)

I'm filing this as AC since I don't want the NEA firebombing my house.

Re:I can see it now... (2)

chrb (1083577) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189958)

From TFA it seems teachers pay stays the same since they work the same hours, but other workers who don't get their pay cut: "Teachers who still work the same number of hours over four days, instead of five, generally don't see a reduction in salary. But staff who can't make up the lost time, such as bus drivers and cafeteria workers, are often hard-hit, losing as much as 20% of their pay."

Re:I can see it now... (1)

dainbug (678555) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190284)

Don't be a fool. It will be the Police Union that cries foul, when all the kids are let loose for long three day weekends. Imagine the trouble they are going to cause!

Wow... (5, Insightful)

vikisonline (1917814) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189732)

To save $50,000 a year, they make an already bad education system worse. The future implications of that are..... I mean that much money for an entire school in one year is not that much. It's like having one less teacher. I'd for one prefer larger classes over this.

Re:Wow... (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189754)

some of these high schools have a graduating class of only 100 or so. mine had about 500 or close to 1000. i guess when there is only one person for every 10 miles it's a big tax increase

Re:Wow... (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189856)

My graduating class was 64. When I graduated, the 7th grade class size was expected to be in the low 50s if there was a 100% graduation rate. I know of some schools within 50 miles of here that don't even have a graduating class every year in spite of school districts covering hundreds of square miles.

What I would like to see cut costs the most is consolidation of districts. We have two districts that average 50-75 people in a graduating class with the schools (K-12 in one building) within 10 miles of each other. Although the districts are quite large geographically, the buildings themselves are both near the same edge of where they border each other. You could easily designate one a primary school and one a secondary school, eliminate a lot of duplicate administrative positions (superintendent, elementary principal and high school principal alone would save $300-$400k)

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37189984)

eliminate a lot of duplicate administrative positions (superintendent, elementary principal and high school principal alone would save $300-$400k)

You see that would be downright counterproductive to the goal of making it sound like they are saving money while actually spending the same or even more.

Re:Wow... (-1)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189762)

....if only i had the mod points

In the end, it doesn't matter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37189770)

It doesn't matter how they tweak the system, to try and save money, or even to try and improve the educational experience for these American students. The end result will be the same. These American students still won't be at a level equivalent to their European and Asian peers of the same age.

They won't understand math and science nearly as well. Hell, many of these American students probably won't even understand English as well as Asian or European students of the same age!

Sometimes, we just need to admit that it's a lost cause. It's a situation that can't be salvaged.

Re:In the end, it doesn't matter. (3, Insightful)

Bigby (659157) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189894)

There's a lot of truth to what you are saying. Our education woes have nothing to do with time. It has to do with the culture. When will it become "cool" to ace a math test? When will the science fair be bigger than a football game? It looks like Glee made Glee Club more come out with some similar show to help in the core subjects...

Re:In the end, it doesn't matter. (2)

skyride (1436439) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189934)

Over here in the UK (and according to plenty of Europeans I know), it's certainly not "cool" either. It's just society in general really considers it to matter once you reach a certain age.

Re:In the end, it doesn't matter. (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190006)

Culture... kind of. If you call consumerism culture, then yes, it is culture that is to blame.

To a degree, it has always been this way, but the things kids are into today are a LOT more expensive than they once were and it seems few go without them. "Members only" jackets -- anyone remember or even know about those? I didn't get one... didn't want one either. But by comparison, things are far worse today.

We also have too much social media going on. (Yes, I know Slashdot is a kind of social media)

And I wish these kids would get off my lawn... damned kids. But seriously, our cultural values are focused on things we buy rather than things we achieve. I'm ashamed to say, my brother is a harley-davidson-jack-daniels-iphone guy and damned proud of it. He has achieved so much by being able to buy these brand names and labels and is in a membership I will probably never join. (He's just so much better than I will ever be... 'cause he's got that stuff)

Re:In the end, it doesn't matter. (5, Interesting)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190002)

But the problem has little to do with money or four day weeks... if they implemented four day weeks correctly, especially for middle school and above, you'd get the same amount of total classroom time and be able to have more focus because you don't need those first 5 or 10 minutes of class to get back "up to speed."

When I was in college, I always felt like my Tue-Thu 1.5 hour classes were more productive than my M-W-F 1 hour classes.

But even that has little to do with it - there's no silver bullet, no single thing that you can "fix" to suddenly make the educational system in the U.S. dramatically improve, there's just too many things that went wrong...

  • * teachers unions (yes, teachers unions, and no, I don't think teachers ought to work for "slave" labor or not have benefits)
  • * lack of focus... yes, art is important, music is important, but the core classes are MORE important and need more resources.
  • * parents - we've had the government coddling us for so long and eliminating so much personal responsibility that most parents are no longer proactive when it comes to their child's education. Yes, your children should not only know letters and numbers, but be able to read BEFORE kindergarten, but even then parents need to be proactive all the way through at least middle school and at least be available and helpful if their child needs it while in high school. I bet the biggest complaint about the four day week comes from the parents who treat school as free daycare. Say all the bad things you want about homeschooling, home schooled students perform better, on average, than public school students, period.
  • * society - when computer "nerds" are held in disdain and "gansta" rappers are lauded in popular culture, the effects are obvious; when studying hard makes you a tool of "the man," and the kids on the football team that are failing are treated like heroes while the kids on the academic team are bullied, there's a problem. When inner city kids are brought up believing they will be able to escape their surroundings by being a professional athlete (which certainly is possible, however unlikely), by being a "gansta" rapper, or through selling drugs instead of hard work in school, there's a problem. When fashion and cliques are more important than your future, there's a problem. When video games come before homework, there's a problem.

I could go on - but the bottom line is things have spiralled out of control and there's no way someone's going to step in and "solve" the problem by attacking just one issue.

I'd also like to point out that what you've stated is somewhat true, but at lower grade levels, American students score comparably to Asian and European countries. By the time we graduate high school, though, the performance falls dramatically. IOW, the potential is there, but our system - including our culture, helps destroy it by the time students become adults. Fourth graders in the U.S. outperform England, Canada, most of Europe, in fact; by grade 8 we drop below those countries... by grade 12 (U.S. public education goes through grade 12, I know it's different in other countries) we are on the bottom of the list.

Re:In the end, it doesn't matter. (2)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190064)

The "obvious" solution would be to force people who are doing poorly in math and/or science to work in a field that requires a lot of either, or both. That way, they will see where it applies to their life, and I believe they'll be more likely to remember the material. Or not. Because they still probably won't be interested in it (and, at least for me, and quite a few other people that I know, that highly decreases the chances that I'll even vaguely remember something).

Some people simply don't need certain knowledge, and asking "what if" questions simply isn't all that convincing to me (even when speaking of high school students). Increasing the rate of failures by forcibly teaching people advanced mathematics and such (rather than just basic everyday things) is rather foolish, in my opinion. They might change their minds later, but that is their problem. They have options if they need to learn it, so don't hold everyone else back and waste their time.

I believe that too much time, money, and resources are wasted on trying to teach things to people who simply won't need them, and not enough responsibility is placed on youth.

Re:In the end, it doesn't matter. (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190120)

While bemoaning the state of American education is fun, and often justified, it really makes more sense to do a more granular comparison.

The state-by-state comparisons of educational outcomes are... quite dramatic. They don't totally salvage the situation(MA, the best performing, still comes in below some but not all of the usual suspects in Asia); but there are parts of the US that do considerably better than "American students" and other parts that, well, do their bit to ensure that the first group doesn't skew the average too much...

Re:In the end, it doesn't matter. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37190192)

Oh, it's a lost cause? I guess we'll just close every one of our schools... since you've decided and all.

For a little perspective: []

We spend a lot on each kid without commensurate performance across the board. But we're hardly in "lost cause" territory.

Re:Wow... (4, Insightful) (183256) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189772)

Big finance people are already taking all the money, now they are also (indirectly) cutting down on education. Poor and uneducated people, rich and knowledgeable lords, well come back 500 years ago.

Re:Wow... (1, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189966)

Big finance people are already taking all the money, now they are also (indirectly) cutting down on education. Poor and uneducated people, rich and knowledgeable lords, well come back 500 years ago.

This assumes the purpose of schools is to educate. It seems more likely their purpose is to train, and to indoctrinate classist philosophies, indoctrinate assembly line attitudes toward work schedules much like the ancient factories (which have mostly left the country).

I never let school get in the way of my education. The two are almost orthogonal.

Now untrained people, yes that is an issue, but if there are no jobs and never will be for them, no real loss. As long as there are enough doctors for the few who can afford them, enough plumbers for the few who can afford them, etc, it'll be OK. It's a pretty strong signal of what the elite think is the long term employment outlook.

Re:Wow... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37190194)

The purpose of the public education system is to provide jobs for as many teachers and administrators as possible, to pay them as much as can be extracted at gunpoint from the taxpaying populace, and prevent them from being fired or otherwise disciplined in any meaningful fashion. Teaching the students is a secondary and sometimes optional function. The proof of this is that, if you were to deliberately design a school system to accomplish these things, it would be identical to the one we have now (h/t to Dr. Jerry Pournelle).

Reform is useless, there are too many interested parties. The solution? Sauve qui peut. Most private schools can do the job, if you have the means. If not, there's homeschooling. And the rest will serve as horrible examples to those who fail to take advantage of the first two options. It's lifeboat time, and there aren't enough seats for everyone.

Re:Wow... (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190288)

lmao yes teachers get paid as much as possible (about 30k with a master's degree and certificate where i live)

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37189812)

$50,000 per year. How big is that budget? It seems pretty small if that's how much could be saved. It's very insignificant when you consider the millions that new school buildings cost.

Re:Wow... (5, Insightful)

dreamt (14798) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189832)

Not only that, but how much extra will it cost parents who need to pay for care for younger children who would otherwise be in school. We know some parents like to treat schools as babysitters, but in any case, now they will really need one. Guess they maybe shouldn't have complained about a slight tax increase to pay for their kids education.

Re:Wow... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37190306)

> but how much extra will it cost parents who need to pay for care for younger children

Don't know, don't care. Perhaps the parents should have thought about possible costs before procreating?

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37189844)

That's assuming this means it will be a worse education system. Universities typically have classes M/W/F or T/T. The HSs still have more days per class than that. We need to educate smarter, not necessarily longer. It is like the guy at work that wants credit because he "worked really hard". What about the guy who spent a fifth the time and actually got it done?

How is this worse? (2)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189860)

If they are able to keep extra programs and such? Plus the dollar amounts are all relative to the schools involved. 50K would be a rounding error in NYC schools but in Podunk wherever results in a class being taught for fuel for school buses.

We have counties here whose fuel bills are in the millions, going to four day weeks would save money wasted on buses; let alone what parents and students who drive spend; and allow them to be spent more effectively.

Re:Wow... (5, Interesting)

chrb (1083577) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189884)

There is no evidence that a 4-day school week makes education worse. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. It would be an interesting task to figure out the optimal hours for children to be educated - it may be that less daily hours may be helpful or not, and it may be that cutting the long holidays may be beneficial or not. Perhaps a 7-day school week would be optimal. But this kind of research should be done as controlled experiments with the aim of figuring out the best way to educate children. Doing it in a haphazard way because of lack of funding is not useful.

The U.S. should be looking to how other countries with better educated children fare - here are the rankings from 2010 [] - how does the education system in South Korea and Finland work? Why are the kids there ranking better than kids in the rest of the world? How do their weekly work timetables compare? What about those long holidays?

Re:Wow... (2)

trout007 (975317) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190014)

US kids get dumber the more years they spend at school. We are pretty competitive in the world when it comes to elementary school children. Basically before puberty hits and our anti-intellectual culture takes over. Maybe less hours in school will make the kids smarter.

Re:Wow... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190068)

What about all the parents who suddenly find they have to be home on Fridays instead of working?

Re:Wow... (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190270)

What about all the parents who suddenly find they have to be home on Fridays instead of working?

Bring your kid to work day, every Friday? Its not as insane as it sounds. I worked at a place with onsite day care, and it worked out pretty well. I also worked at a place where the owners kids just kinda "hung out" and learned the business whenever school was not in session. Pretty much as soon as they're old enough to understand "shut up, don't touch, just watch" they're ready to be kinda junior apprentices...

Going the other direction it forces a national dialog on working at home for those who can. If I recall how it all went down, the stalling point was my wife's boss wanted to know how he could be certain she was doing her work at home. She asked him how he was certain she was doing her work at 2am when he paged her, or any of the 99.9% of the time he was not vulture like hovering over her shoulder at work. Light bulb went on over bosses head. She started her new WAH schedule the next week. This may be my memory failing me, but I think that was how it happened, perhaps not. "If I use a laptop to work at home at 2am, trust me, it works just as well to work at home at 2pm"

Re:Wow... (4, Interesting)

lpp (115405) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190186)

There is no evidence that a 4-day school week makes education worse. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. It would be an interesting task to figure out the optimal hours for children to be educated - it may be that less daily hours may be helpful or not, and it may be that cutting the long holidays may be beneficial or not. Perhaps a 7-day school week would be optimal. But this kind of research should be done as controlled experiments with the aim of figuring out the best way to educate children. Doing it in a haphazard way because of lack of funding is not useful.

Actually, with regard to shortened holidays, research [] indicates that continued academic effort (reading in the linked case) positively impacts academic performance in the subsequent semester. Granted in this case the study was performed on students who continued to read during summer vacation and checked their performance when they came back, which is different from concentrated classroom study. Furthermore, according to the wiki [] there is a measured "summer learning loss" attributed to summer holidays where students do not perform any notable academic tasks, suggesting that the inverse would hold true as well, that real academic tasks throughout the long summer holiday might help stave off the worst effects of this "learning loss".

When looking at a 4 day school week, I don't think the loss of one day would in itself negative impact education. Obviously cutting it much further would probably tend to have negative consequences. I think keeping the kids in class longer hours during those 4 days will actually have a more negative effect, especially among younger students who don't tend to have the mental stamina for longer sessions of concentrated focus. The problem is I think they added the hours into the remaining days in order to be able say they are still covering the entire curriculum, but the focus problem may come into play and the kids won't be able to pick up the material as readily as before. Tacking on extra weeks at the end of the year would simply bring the financial problem back into play. What kids need are a regular steady diet of learning time, not huge gobs with vast periods of time between.

Re:Wow... (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190212)

It would be an interesting task to figure out the optimal hours for children to be educated - it may be that less daily hours may be helpful or not

/.ers think back upon your own past. I never let school get in the way of my education. I could trivially sit down and blast 12 hours straight of learning programming or systems administration or ham radio or building electronics stuff or reading a Really good book. But there was no freaking way I could do that 5 or 7 days in a row.

I would hazard a guess that at least /.er personality kids would excel at longer hours, fewer days.

I would extend that assumption, that even "intellectually challenged" kids had no problem turnin wrenches on their car for 12 hours, or going fishing for 12 hours, or whatever else those kids did they seemed to do it for extended durations, but not every day of the week.

Thinking back on ancient history, the ancients pretty much worked "until it was done" but on days with no work they F-ed off a lot. Not much nose to the grindstone every day of the year, at least with the ancients. Either you worked like a dog all day, or it was religious worship/celebration/festival day and you goofed off all day. If there is any genetic metabolic component to that, we should have the same preference.

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37190320)

So you dismiss the article's premise, provide no evidence for your dismisal, then project the implication that US's standard of time in class room is excessive with hand waving about other countries.

I think it comes down to national attitude towards education, not the actual mechanisms used to educate.

Re:Wow... (2)

yog (19073) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189920)

Don't jump to conclusions here. Home schooling is, at worst, generally equivalent to public schooling and at best, far superior (depends on the individuals involved). Whatever the children do on Friday can't be too bad for their personal emotional and intellectual development, unless they have really negligent parents. I suspect lots of 2-income families will start sending their kids to Friday camp at the local YMCA or church, to keep them occupied with games and activities. Hopefully not television for 8 hours.

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." -- Mark Twain (attributed)

"In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then He made school boards." -- Mark Twain (Following the Equator)

Re:Wow... (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190198)

Homeschooling produces more highly educated people simply because the parents are more involved with the education of their children instead of shipping them off to some government school "black box," where they usually have little idea what is actually going on and don't care.

Public schools would actually work better if people stopped letting the government assume what would otherwise be their own responsibility. If you could somehow fail and punish parents along with the students, things might actually improve.

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37189928)

You can only reduce teaching staff so much. Once you're left with one or two teachers for a given discipline you're down to cutting school days. Even still, the anti-tax crowd insists that it's not lack of funding that's the issue. It must be something the schools are doing wrong, because it can't possibly be that my opinions are wrong.

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37189942)

Not only that, all those parents who might have worked on that day now have to arrange child care, which will cost way more than $50000

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37190112)

Well, the parents should have thought of that when they likely voted NO on a school millage increase. For those that actually did vote YES...sorry, but you've been victimized by the masses.

Re:Wow... (3, Informative)

Eraesr (1629799) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189970)

I'm as amazed about that amount of money as you are. $50,000 in a single year isn't all that much. It seems like they're trying to kill a fly with a tank here.

Re:Wow... (2)

Marc Madness (2205586) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190096)

This also seems like an example of re-distribution of cost. I only skimmed TFA, and I didn't see any indication that this change is across the board or just high-school or what, but if it includes K-6, then two-income families are going to have to invest in putting their kids in some form of daycare one day a week so they can continue going to work. Which I'm sure when you account for all the kids that will be in daycare may add up to quite a bit more than $50,000/year. This seems like bad economics to me. On the other hand, some enterprising parents may open up home daycares for extra scratch and the increased demand may drive down the cost of daycare (yeah right), but I don't expect that will very much offset the $50,000+ in lost revenue for the other families.

Re:Wow... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190020)

It seems an especially false economy because it is rather hard to "close" a school(or any other largish building, particularly in a cold climate, that is actively used much of the time) for short periods.

You can lock the doors and hang a "closed" sign, sure; but you've got to heat the place to keep the pipes from freezing, if in winter, there will likely be some lights you need to keep on, custodial and other support staff may need access to run around and do their thing, IT will want computers on to do patches(and probably won't ever want switch or server racks to be off...)

It just isn't trivial to turn a building on a dime(especially if it is an older unit with slightly cranky or inflexible climate control systems).

And, of course, beyond the material consideration, team finance would probably like to have a word or two with you about the opportunity costs, depreciation costs, and assorted other quantifications of the fact that letting useful stuff just sit there has downsides...

Re:Wow... (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190046)

To save $50,000 a year...

I'd like to know what that is as a percentage of total school costs.

I'm guessing it isn't an impressive number when expressed as a percentage.

Re:Wow... (1)

Shadow99_1 (86250) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190280)

I used to work as the network admin for a school with between 300-500 students. Out yearly budget was around $7 million USD. So I'd say this is nothing, though I was replaced for less than $50k to balance the budget a couple years ago as well...

Re:Wow... (1)

DonDuke (2439804) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190224)

Looks like things stay the same...... the Unions win and the students lose. If they kicked out the unions, they could save money and have teachers actually be rated on there abilities. Sigh..............

Re:Wow... (1)

BVis (267028) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190282)

[citation needed]

You know, because we don't have a hard enough time recruiting teachers. Let's make them all at-will employees, subject to termination because they wore the wrong color shirt that day. I'm sure people will be flocking to teaching like it's going out of style, instead of making a lot more money working somewhere else.

Teachers teach because 1) they want to educate, 2) because it's a relatively secure job. You need both. Take one or the other away, and you've suddenly got no teachers.

Re:Wow... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37190310)

Does it make it worse?

I don't know much about the US school system. But when Sweden went from a 6-day school week to a 5-day school week in 1967, the students was able to learn more faster.

If you compare with ordinary work. A Swedish employer work less then half the time an US employee does (we have a 5 day, 30-40 hour, work week, but very frequent and long vacations and a much higher acceptance (both among employers and work mates) for sick and pregnancy leaves), but they are more then 5 times as efficient (20 times according to some studies). That is, even if a Swedish employee is paid more then twice of what an US employee is, doing the same tasks (he/she generally is, if (s)he is an ordinary worker, but Swedish management is paid considerably less then US management, Swedish management is also considerably smaller then US management, because Swedish workers are more autonomous), he/she still generate more money for the employer. Granted, some of the difference is because Swedish workplaces is highly automated (on the same level as West Germany, Japan, S. Korea and Switzerland), while USA is the least automated first world country (it is also the least first world country of all first world countries, the scale is rigged to include USA).

Being a hard worker and spending much time at the workplace is not always the same thing as being an efficient or profitable worker. I think that applies even more to students; learning and understanding new stuff is among the most mentally exhausting task you can do. You also have to consider the learn-fast-forget-fast effect, if you cram knowledge to fast into someones brain, (s)he will quickly forget most of it.

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37190322)

Oh, but the teachers like having three days off every week...

Please roll this out to work (2)

Chris.Nelson (943214) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189744)

This may or may not work out for schools but I would love a 3-day weekend every week at my job!

Re:Please roll this out to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37189800)

I'm sure a lot of parents there are having to do this, although that third day is unpaid. Wonder what this will do to the juvenile crime and teen pregnancy rates?

Re:Please roll this out to work (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189838)

And you'd probably perform better as a result. It's past time we instituted a 35-hour work week like in France, or better; it'd reduce unemployment, increase productivity and make people happier.

Re:Please roll this out to work (1)

pagedout (1144309) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190292)

Man do I hope that was sarcasm.

All we need is more laws that make it harder to make a living. Oh, and France as your example... From everything I can find France's normal unemployment rate is like ours is now, they are less productive (in total but on par per hour) and there seems to be articles taking the "happier" rating both ways. Oh, and financially our poor are often better off then their middle class so I am not really interested in trying to change our economy to be like theirs.

But that's just me,

Re:Please roll this out to work (2)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189846)

Which is going to be the big issue here ,most people have a 5 day work week and they can't just skip one day of work each week. So in practice, they have to ship their kids somewhere or have someone come watch them - but 30 babysitters are way more expensive that one teacher - or you'll have older kids at home unsupervised, which will have plenty issues of its own. So yeah it saves the school money, but at the cost of the parents...

Re:Please roll this out to work (1)

Formorian (1111751) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189900)

I work 9 out of 10. I do have the option as a whole for 8 out of 10, but my Boss wanted to start with 9 out of 10 to see how it works. After 3 months, she's agreed to let me keep 9 out of 10 but not go to 8. 8 is just 9.375-10 hrs per day (depends 37.5 to 40) and for 9, i work 40 hours the 5 day week, 35hours the 4 day week. It's awesome.

Re:Please roll this out to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37189944)

I know plenty of people in IT who work 4 10-hour days a week. It's a pain to schedule meetings, but the people I know who have the 4-10s schedule seem to really like it.


Re:Please roll this out to work (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190100)

This may or may not work out for schools but I would love a 3-day weekend every week at my job!

I'm living the dream... Note that if you work 4 day "weeks" the odds of getting bugged to log in at home on the 5th day of the week darn near approach 50%. So its not really a "4 day week" its more like "4 to 5 days a week, depending on problems"

Daycare costs of small children drop at least 20%, more if you're creative about which hours and days you work. My coworkers thought I was crazy to take a $2K paycut to switch employers to a 4-day employer... Then I pointed out I was saving something like $7K year on day care cost by creative arrangement of my "working days", and saving at least $1K/year on car fuel and maint, and saving around four hours per week of sitting in my car in a traffic jam... Incredibly good deal.

The longer day is not exactly oppressive... An extra hour before and after lunch, big deal, unless you're mr. clockwatcher you'll never mentally notice. This also means I miss the worst of "rush hour" traffic so bizarrely enough working two extra hours per day cuts into my free time by LESS than two hour per day, because commute drops from 45+ minutes to about 20 or less. So an "eight hour day" means about 9.5 hours outside the home, and a "ten hour day" means about 10.6 hours outside the home, an added cost of only about one hour "lost", in exchange for an extra day off per week.

It depends on your job. I program a lot, on long projects, and it takes forever to "get in the groove" and once I'm going I don't want to stop and I hate senseless interruptions. Posting to /. gets me in the mood, I'm gonna refactor a data importer right after this... Anyway longer shifts, and weekend hours, work beautifully for my job. If your job is standing heavy manual labor, then an extra 20% effort per day might kill you, so it depends.

Sleep and eating patterns take about a week to resolve, after which it feels perfectly normal.

Re:Please roll this out to work (2)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190108)

I see tremendous benefits in four day work and school weeks, and also a tremendous saving in resources.

While it's true that four 10 hour days might seem difficult compared to 5 eight hour days, an extra two hours a day is not really that bad; people might complain they'd be tired and cranky at the end of the day, but most of them already are, and that extra day off can have a huge positive impact on one's mental health. Yes, I am saying this from someone who, for several years, worked four day work weeks and took Friday off (the worst commute day of the week... what a blessing that was).

On top of that, I don't know about everyone else but I spend 30 to 45 minutes commuting to work; round trip that an hour to an hour and a half. Over the course of 40 weeks (subtracting time off and holidays), that's a whole work week of commuting time saved, not to mention wear and tear on the car, saving gasoline, and causing less pollution. On top of that, if people staggered which day off they took, you could potentially eliminate 20% of the traffic on any given day - how would that be for easing rush hour? School would be the same way - busses only screwing up traffic four days a week instead of 5, and a 20% savings in fuel, and while my commute may be bad, some students are stuck on the bus for over 30 minutes each way... they would get that time back, too.

Of course, you get many (but not all) of the same benefits simply by working at home one day a week, but a lot of jobs can't do that. Luckily, after my stint with 4 day work week, while I'm back to 5 days a week, I work at least one day a week at home. I often (not always, I admit) get more work done at home with fewer distractions (and having been able to sleep in an extra hour or so).

Re:Please roll this out to work (1)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190278)

I'm interested in how common a practice this is; I take it you're in the US? What part? Have you found that employers everywhere allow working from home 1 day a week or is it limited to certain areas?

Here where I live - central England - there are very few companies (although more than zero) that will allow anything like that, unfortunately. It's *very* standard to have 9:00 - 17:30, and pretty hard to convince any employers to be any less rigid.

Parents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37189758)

I'm sure they will love the kids being home an extra day when they are not around. With childcare costs, this could cost them far more than $50,000 total

Re:Parents (5, Interesting)

chrb (1083577) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189940)

From TFA: "Two different Boys and Girls Club sites and a church are offering affordable child care and tutoring, respectively, on Mondays for between $10 and $15."

The district has 300 students - 300 x $10 (or $15) x 36 weeks = $108000 to $162000.

So you are right, the cost of childcare is far more than the cost of the extra $50k to run the school for a day. However, the article also states that locals are unwilling to pay the extra cost in taxes: "We've repeatedly asked our residents to pay higher taxes, cut some of our staff, and we may even close one of our schools. What else can you really do?".

Re:Parents (1)

Goboxer (1821502) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190220)

Sounds like another case of people wanting more of something for less money. People seem to not realize that everything costs money, and their governments should spend wisely, not less.

Re:Parents (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190134)

But that's a cost to the parents not the schools. A simple alternative would be increasing taxes so the schools. Of course there's likely a lot of tax payers who don't have kids in school to - they might prefer that the parents eat the cost.

Save school money and... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37189766)

Create endless headache for parents that must now have someone watch their child one day a week.... I suspect someone is not going to get reelected to the school board.

crack and condoms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37189776)

probably cheaper than teaching them stuff and gives them something to do as well. then just put them on welfare and let educated immigrants do our work to pay for welfare.

sounds like a plan.

4 days is a solid idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37189788)

Let's give it some thought. Four days school weeks. Let's M/T, and Th/F. Now, if we extend each day by 1.5 to 2 hours, we net a savings in janitorial, heating and cooling, buses (this is huge), bus drivers, and if done nationally, a LOT of fuel from days off for parents driving kids to school. More time in each class means my kids may not complain about the limited amount actually spent LEARNING. There will be an extra day for homework (let's say Wednesday is an off day), so that there is less wear on kids. Also, on the off day, the kids could have access to email, or web/other learning tools for immersion.

daycare needed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37189796)

I call BS on this. They're only interested in giving themselves a long weekend.
There's no consideration given to the parents who have to scramble to find another
day-care facility (yes, I am saying that schools, now-a-days, are functionally day-care

In some states (I don't know about N. Dakota), there's a minimum requirement for
attendance by a number of days served - which is taken to be calendar days; not
accumulated hours... Just my 2.

A solution for unemployment? (1)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189798)

Think about it, this can be a solution to unemployment.

Before you start asking me "But what happened to the usual near-Marxist flavor of your posts? Do you not see that this will lead to more desperate workers that will have to yield more and more to the demands of MegaCorp?", seriously, think about it. We already have robots doing labor, let's focus on building new, more efficient ones, so we can afford to have one more weekend day in the long run. And in the short-term, new people can be hired to work part-time- it's not like MegaCorp can't afford it!

Re:A solution for unemployment? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189996)

I LOVED working four ten-hour shifts instead of five eights.

You can get plenty of work done with less interruption and three-day weekends rock.

Re:A solution for unemployment? (1)

Eivind (15695) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190244)

It's super for those who're young and independent, agreed. One size doesn't fit all, 4 long days REALLY suck if you've got kids of your own, for example.

4 day weeks where the day off alternates between friday and monday rock even harder -- that way every second weekend is 4 days long. Enabling you to take a weekend-trip that feels almost like a vacation.

2 days, or even 3, off is -slightly- to short for many kinds of getaways.

4 day week, 10h days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37189816)

Seriously, 4 day weeks with 10h days would rock over 5 day weeks with 8h.

I mean really, since everyone is working the SAME shifts right now, you lose 2h to traffic/travel times on a day anyways!

Socialism (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37189818)

How can a school system not afford to stay open? In new york city they get $17,000 per year per student. Average tuition at a private school is $4,000. Enjoy your socialism

Re:Socialism (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190268)

Average? What color is the sky on your planet?

According to the probably-not-exactly-an-arm-of-teacher's-union-socialism "Council for American Private Education [] the lowest average private tuition was $4,944 for a Catholic elementary program(direct costs only, any cash or service subsidies from the church organization not included). All secondary and K-12 programs averaged higher.

4 days weeks is stupid (4, Informative)

sxpert (139117) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189822)

we've had that in france for a while. it has been discovered that pupils end up extremely tired at the end of each day, and the whole thing is totally inefficient. in fact, we're having talks of going to a US style week, with morning classes and afternoon outdoor activities and stuff... also, switching to a 4 days week to save money is the most ludicrous and stupid thing I've heard. ah, no, I've heard worse. closing a school in a mountain village, and forcing parents to drive their kids 1 hour away every morning and back

Oh the humanity! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37189836)

Parents will scramble to find daycare!
Kids will run rampant in the neighbourhoods/suburbs!
Public will see this as teachers lessening their workload and/or have long weekends!
Public will see this as cost downloading!
Moderates will see this as America losing the battle to improve education (compared to China)!
Teachers will complain that they have to fit the curriculum in 4 days!

Teeanagers will increase population growth!
Atheltic programs will have an extra day for practice!
Parents will raise more independent children as they are well equipped to leave them unsupervised for one day per week!
Daycare will BOOM!
Cartoons will run all day on Fridays!
Americans kids are too good for College; let's have the Chinese and Indians to all dem thinking jobs for us!

Logic was not on the curriculum... (1)

clickety6 (141178) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189872)

But other schools in the state show that kids haven't suffered with a shortened school week. The Deuel school district in eastern S.D. switched to a four-day week four years ago, saving more than $100,000 and leading to no slump in academic achievement. In fact, Deuel's superintendent Dean Christensen tells the Associated Press that their failure rate has declined because they've used the spare day for extra tutoring.

We'll give them a day off school and instead use that day for tutoring.

Isn't that like teaching?

No, it's tutoring, not teaching!

Where does the money for that come from?

The money we saved closing the school for one day a week will pay for all the tutors...!

Re:Logic was not on the curriculum... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37189986)

The difference between tutoring and teaching is that the student focuses on the subject(s) in which they are struggling, rather than having to spend much smaller portions of the entire day learning about everything on the curriculum.

Re:Logic was not on the curriculum... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37190344)

Teaching involves every student, and they have to be there all day (which means things like providing them with lunch service), and the whole school has to be active. Tutoring is one on one , the student only needs to be there for an hour or two , and it's only for a limited number of students that actually need the help. This is more effective for those students that actually need the extra help, you don't have to provide them services like lunch and bus transportation, and you have to have the entire building lit up and heated/cooled. You don't see how that could be an all around improvement?

Fall of a nation (4, Interesting)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189874)

Isn't it funny how the leaders of a fallen nation always claim they didn't see it coming? How they keep claiming to the very last day, that theirs is a strong nation that will never fall?

You know what? They don't even lie.

Re:Fall of a nation (1)

LordNacho (1909280) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190062)

Nobody walks over a cliff if they can see it approaching, duh!

We'll just keep walking backwards...

Re:Fall of a nation (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190080)

Politicians are not so mindless as they appear, they just know what's the right thing to say. Even when they know they have to keep running the ship against disaster to stay in office, they'll do it. That they "didn't see it coming" is a helluva lot better excuse than saying "yep I saw it coming, but I did it anyway". They're not that different from an employee keeping his head down until the project is a total failure $10 millions later instead of speaking up and getting laid off. It actually makes very little difference if a politician ends his political career on good or bad terms.

Re:Fall of a nation (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190294)

You should not attribute to malice, what you can adequately explain through a mechanism of self-reinforcing ignorance.

As for example the easily observable process of politicians selecting their advisors on the basis of compliance with their ideology - instead of erm ... you know ... the real world?

What about the (working) parents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37189876)

Moving to a 4 day school week completely ignores the fact that (like it or not) school is a type of day-care that working parents rely on. While it may save the school 50k a year per school (really.. is that all?) it is going to cause problems for the working parents and their employers.

Amazing... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189888)

... what you can't accomplish when you are unwilling to pay for anything.

Although with the rather solid conservative majority in South Dakota, many of these people are probably the same ones who complain about public schools being a machine of the commie-socialist-atheist-muslim-fascist-hippie-liberal elite.

4 Day Work Weeks for the Local Companies (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37189896)

So are all of the local companies in those districts going to four day work weeks? A lot of parents are at work during school hours and have to take vacation days to cover school holidays that don't overlap with their work ones. I wonder how the parents are handling an extra day each week. Day care facilities must be booming!

Re:4 Day Work Weeks for the Local Companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37190042)

You open the schools on Friday, but charge parents directly to watch their kids. That's where the big money would roll in. Forget that $50K/year savings.

good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37189904)

I wish we had this when I was in school. Would have been one more day out of the week I could have spent reading something at my level instead of having to sneak it in during class.

The answer is obvious (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37189922)

Cut taxes!

Clearly it's the fault of some evil government type person somewhere, casting evil spells.

Ugh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37189926)

Great, more time for the little brats to run around vandalizing the town. Except for the parents that take time off to watch them. In that case they'll be screaming for more "family" time off from work. They'll get it, and those of us without kids will end up carrying even MORE of their load. I'm already beyond tired of carrying extra load for people that can't figure out how to keep their pants on...

Technology... (2)

neokushan (932374) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189946)

I do wonder why more effort doesn't seem to be put into using Technology to help save money.

Sure, take your 4 day week. Does that mean the kids can't be given a website to go to, with their on personal login, that has a bunch of weekly tests and exams for them to do, that they can spend friday doing? Have set times, make them sit the "exam" at the same time as everyone else, effectively making it a "school day" without the school. Even if it's something simple like watching an educational video and occasionally interrupting to ask both education questions and questions to make sure they're actually paying attention. It's not a perfect idea, it sure as hell wouldn't beat having direct access to a teacher 5 days a week, but surely it's better than just not being in school on the friday.

It seems that technology in the classroom is constantly shunned, with people stating that computers distract kids more than they help, but maybe that's just because people haven't invested enough in them. Or maybe it's just a pipe dream.

Re:Technology... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37190114)

But the tech costs money... Since they don't have any to start with, the plan is unworkable.

Great idea. (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#37189976)

I loved four-day weeks at college. For a trivially longer workday you get four days extra per month to have a life.

Increases in daycare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37189990)

So what are parents doing for their kids while they're at work on Friday? Now they have to pay for sitters?

Best thing to happen to the education system! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37190004)

More free time is the best gift to give to those kids who use their free time productively. Sure, a lot of kids will waste away their awesome 3 day weekends playing video games and getting into trouble. Whatever. Their loss. There are also a lot of kids that deserve that free time - those that use that time to conduct bedroom science experiments, learn a musical instrument, play sports, etc... more time to do all of this can only make them a better person. In any case... if kids aren't learning anything from our 'defunct' education system, how can it be harmful to lessen their exposure to that system? Its a win-win scenario.

As a product of the public school system... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37190016)

I'm all for this! The more time kids spend out of school the more actual learning they can do.

What about the parents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37190076)

And how does this work for parents who both work, do they have to then pay out for someone to watch their kids on this day off the kids now get every week? I thought you paid taxes for your kids to be in education, so surely the state should give you some sort of rebate (about a 20%) on the amount of you tax that goes towards education funding (which from the story is a dwindling amount anyway).

Wont someone think of the parents?

School saves money, parents pay more (1)

Ptur (866963) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190078)

So what are parents who have a 5 day workweek going to do? Hire a babysitter on friday? This may work out for older kids, not the younger ones....

Not one parent on here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37190104)

Why has no-one mentioned the issue of daycare for these kids on Fridays? Saving the school a measly $50,000 per year is one thing, but it's gonna cost the parents a lot more than that between them. What are they paying taxes for, exactly?

purpose of education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37190140)

i thought the purpose of education was to condition a neanderthal hunter to sit down and be still for 40 hours a week.

What is it worth to educate the poor? (1)

scruffy (29773) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190154)

The affluent will be able to pay for private school. What these cuts do is to ensure that the poor get less education. Somehow, most of the affluent folks have become convinced that educating the poor is not worth it. It is hard to see how this will end well.

Re:What is it worth to educate the poor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37190266)

Damn those evil rich people.

Thank the Republicans and the TEA Party (2)

assertation (1255714) | more than 3 years ago | (#37190182)

Thank the Republicans and the TEA Party. Taxes are the lowest they have been since the 50s on the upper classes, but these people have been fighting tooth and nail to cut budgets even further.

While the rest of the world is increasing the school week, the US is decreasing it.

Not only are these people working to make you poor and miserable while you are old, but trying to slash medicare and "taxing" your 401K with their debt ceiling/S&P/default stunt, they are working to make your children under-educated, to make sure they are poor all their lives.

Please vote these people out in 2012.

For your self interest.

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