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Academy ISD considering 4-day school week

Four-day school weeks recently became popular among smaller and rural school districts across Texas.

LITTLE RIVER-ACADEMY, Texas — Academy ISD in Little River-Academy is considering switching to a four-day school week by the upcoming school year.

On Thursday, Superintendent Billy Harlan told 6 News the district has been looking for ways to entice future educators and believes a shorter school week could be the key.

"When it's hard for us to compete on the salary schedule, what we've decided is potentially, this turns into a really good recruiting and retention strategy," Harlan said.

Four-day school weeks recently became popular among smaller and rural school districts across Texas, according to the Texas Tribune. Like Harlan mentioned, this helps smaller districts like Academy ISD compete with Texas school districts offering a bigger starting salary for teachers.

"That's the essence of it," he said. "...So we got to talking about it and we reached out to some other school districts, and we decided, hey, let's start the conversation."

Harlan said a shorter school week could also help with the teacher shortage seen across Texas, as well as the nation. 

Harlan said this method doesn't guarantee a rush of educators flooding into the district, but sees benefits for the staff and students already in the district.

Teachers at Academy ISD weighed in on the subject, as well noting the off day would do wonders for their ability to plan and prepare to teach.

"Being a coach and a teacher this really allows us to do both character development and have a lot of time with more planning," Varsity Volleyball coach and Sophomore English Teacher Allison Waits said. "It allows for both the dual position of coaching and teaching."

Monica Torres, a high school science teacher, said the four-day week provides an added mental break for students who constantly deal with a fast-paced workload at school.

"I think we could get more out of them in the work days that we are here four days a week," she said. "It gives them that mental break that they need."

Harlan said he's heard mostly positive reaction from parents but of course, there are those who might not be able to accommodate an extra off day for their child.

Harlan assured there is nothing to worry about on that front for grades pre-K through the fifth grade.

"What we're calling an instructional recreational style camp, so something very similar to what a Ralph Wilson Center would offer. Boys and Girls Club would offer," Harlan said. "There would be opportunities to allow high school students to provide care, other staff could provide care on the extra off day as needed. There will be plans in place to make it work."

Grades 6 to 12 will not have as broad of a plan to accommodate for parents who need a plan for their kids on the extra off day but he said it will be case by case and the district is willing to work with parents who need the assistance.

He said the school board will vote on whether or not the district will have four-day school weeks in the next meeting or in February.


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