State Says No Evidence 4-Day School Weeks Save Money
INOLA, Oklahoma - The State Department of Education said there is no evidence school districts going to a four-day week are actually saving money.
Tulsa Public Schools won't consider it, but 90 smaller districts have four-day weeks now, and the state said 40 more are considering it this fall.
Inola seniors will soon graduate with 35 fewer days in class than usual after the district switched to a four-day week, with Mondays off.
“I'm fortunate I have a senior graduating and he wasn't faced with this during his school career, but I have a fourth grader and I know they're not getting the same quality of education,” parent Audra Cornett said.
Inola isn't alone going dark one day a week to save money; and while they hoped it might be temporary, the conversation now is what cuts to make next.
In Inola, Superintendent Kent Holbrook is convinced his district is saving money on the four-day week; and even if it is just a small part of the budget, he has to do it because what's best for the kids is no longer the main part of the equation.
When asked about his decision to layoff teachers or close school one day a week, Holbrook said, “In Oklahoma right now, we're not funding the schools to do what's best for the students. Right now, schools are making these decisions according to what's going to do the least damage to my students."
State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister is critical of the four-day week but recognizes that schools are in a bind.
“The savings are very minimal. At the most, to half a percent to two percent savings,” she said. “We think that can't justify the cost to kids. We need more days on instruction and more time on instruction.”
The state studied very small districts that started four day weeks a few years ago.
The Inola superintendent said he knows he's saving money now, he just doesn't know how he'll cut back more next year.