Two rural school districts in North Dakota will be the first in the state to switch to a Monday through Thursday schedule this fall, according to the Associated Press.
Although schools in these districts will increase the length of each school day, officials are hoping to decrease transportation and energy expenses and potentially increase student and staff morale.
Nationwide, at least 120 school districts in 21 states operate on a four-day week, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). The schedule is most common for small, rural districts because it can reduce transportation costs as well as the cost of staffing schools for a full five days.
Critics of the four-day school week say that the resulting longer school day may be too long, especially for elementary school students. Some experts worry that students will regress during long weekends away from school, and parents may face challenges finding child care.
A 2009 report on 17 Montana districts that operate on a four-day school week found that schools adopted the schedule to cut costs, but also to potentially decrease absenteeism and improve teacher recruitment efforts. While several communities expressed concerns about the length of the new school day, all districts saw a decline in student absenteeism and 14 of the districts reported an improvement in teacher and student morale.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.