Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Idea #1: Four Longer Days

As promised, here's the first idea for saving money without compromising education: schedule a 4-day school week, with longer class periods so the amount of instruction does not change. Plenty of people do this in industry; my wife has arranged a '4/40' schedule so she can spend more time with our 2-year old daughter. I heard this idea in the school context from Jeff Kropf's blog (http://www.jeffkropf.com/node/595), which I will quote here:

...move to a true four day school week as some 40 Oregon school districts have done and more are considering as a cost efficiency measure. If implemented properly it saves money, makes everyone happier and gets better results. You can actually save substantive amounts of money by not holding any activities in the school district one day a week.... Schools save money by not turning on the lights, heating the building, paying for janitors and cafeteria workers or transporting students... Some teachers say that longer class periods allow students to finish projects uninterupted, producing better results. A longer school day also keeps bored kids working and helps diminish the latch key kids issue.

This sounds like a fine idea to me. I see one monkey wrench in that full-time working parents may depend on the fifth day of child care. But if that turns out to be an issue, we can just implement this in middle and high schools, where all students are old enough to be legally allowed to stay at home if needed. And of course nothing prevents community volunteering, intramural sports, or other volunteer-run recreational activities for the kids on Fridays.

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