School & District Management

New Study Casts Doubt on Savings From Four-Day Weeks

By Marva Hinton — April 24, 2017 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

There is no conclusive evidence that four-day school weeks save districts money, according to a study by the Oklahoma Department of Education.

The department analyzed expenditures for 16 school districts in the state that started four-day school weeks during the 2011-2012 school year. The study looked at each district’s expenditures from fiscal year 2008-2009 through 2015-2016 in four different areas: utilities, food, transportation, and support staff.

The analysis found that nine of the 16 districts spent more money on average following the change to a four-day school week. Eight of those districts also received less state funding due to a decrease in what the state calls Weighted Average Daily Membership (WADM), a complex metric used to help determine funding. (OKPolicy.org does a good job of explaining it.) The report theorizes that those eight districts may have had more expenditures due to an increase in student numbers apart from any schedule changes.

On average, the remaining seven districts spent less money on a four-day-week schedule. Four had a decrease in WADM, while three had an increase.

The report broke down the average increased expenditures and savings to find that districts spent $8,542 more on support staff and $4,523 more on utilities, while spending $2,714 less on food and $1,971 less on transportation.

Earlier this year, we spoke to a superintendent from Missouri who was a big proponent of the four-day week. He said the biggest savings for his district came from cutting the hours of support staff, so it’s a little surprising that these districts were spending so much more on support staff.

“Some of our best people took a 15 percent pay cut...,” said Chris Fine, the Lathrop (Mo.) Superintendent. “That’s probably the hardest part of the thing. To save that money, most of that money came from support staff pay cuts.”

We also spoke to a researcher who has serious doubts about four-day weeks. His research found the savings to be negligible with great potential for students to be harmed in the long run.

“You can see why taking a bold step to save 20 percent of the budget would justify a serious move,” said Paul Hill, the founder of the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) at the University of Washington Bothell. “But a bold step to profoundly change the use of time and cut the number of school days by 20 percent and save 1 percent, that’s a little different story, and I think that’s what people are finding.”

The Associated Press reports four-day weeks are becoming more popular in Oklahoma with at least 44 school districts now considering that schedule or shortening the school year. The AP also reports that 97 districts in the state are currently operating under a four-day week, which is almost double the number from last school year.


Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Time and Learning blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Some Teachers Won't Get Vaccinated, Even With a Mandate. What Should Schools Do About It?
Vaccine requirements for teachers are gaining traction, but the logistics of upholding them are complicated.
9 min read
Illustration of a vaccine, medical equipment, a clock and a calendar with a date marked in red.
iStock/Getty
School & District Management A Vaccine for Kids Is Coming. 6 Tips for Administering the Shot in Your School
Start planning now, get help, and build enthusiasm. It's harder than it looks.
11 min read
Cole Rodriguez, a 15-year-old student at Topeka West, gets a COVID-19 vaccine Monday, Aug. 9, 2021 at Topeka High School's vaccine clinic.
Cole Rodriguez, a 15-year-old student, gets a COVID-19 vaccine at Topeka High School's vaccine clinic.
Evert Nelson/The Topeka Capital-Journal via AP
School & District Management Letter to the Editor School Mask Mandates: Pandemic, ‘Panicdemic,’ or Personal?
"A pandemic is based on facts. A 'panicdemic' is based on fears. Today, we have both," writes a professor.
1 min read
School & District Management How 'Vaccine Discrimination' Laws Make It Harder for Schools to Limit COVID Spread
In Montana and Ohio, the unvaccinated are a protected class, making it tough to track and contain outbreaks, school leaders say.
4 min read
Principal and District Superintendent Bonnie Lower takes the temperature of a student at Willow Creek School as the school reopened, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Willow Creek, Mont.
Bonnie Lower, a principal and district superintendent in Willow Creek, Mont., checks the temperature of a student as Willow Creek School reopened for in-person instruction in the spring.
Ryan Berry/Bozeman Daily Chronicle via AP