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Colleges Move To 4-Day Week To Cut Energy Costs

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Some Oklahoma colleges and universities are testing out a simple way to cut back on their utility costs this summer: Stay closed an extra day each week. Statewide, college campuses expect to spend an additional $4.9 million next fiscal year on natural gas and electricity, said Ben Hardcastle, spokesman for the State Regents for Higher Education. The result is a search for creative ways to trim those bills.

Among the schools taking a Fridays-off approach this summer are Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Carl Albert State College in Poteau, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College in Miami and the Northern Oklahoma College campuses in Tonkawa and Enid.

Using a similar approach, the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond has saved about $45,000 a year in energy costs, said Executive Vice President Steve Kreidler.

At Southeastern Oklahoma State, employees will still work 40 hours per week, but all that time will come between Monday and Thursday.

``Summer is a tremendously busy time, preparing for the fall semester,'' said Sherry Foster, director of Southeastern's student aid office. ``The extra hours worked Monday through Thursday will enable our office to process more efficiently and provide notification to students on a more timely basis.''

The university hopes it, too, can save thousands on its utilities by leaving buildings _ and air conditioners _ unused an extra day per week.

The plan isn't for everyone, though.

Employees at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha tried a four-day work week in 2002 with mixed results.

``Most employees seemed to enjoy the three-day weekends, generally, but it limits services to students, so we did not continue that,'' spokesman Randy Talley said.

Foster said Southeastern students shouldn't be negatively impacted because no classes are held on Fridays.
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