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After reviewing data and research around four-day school weeks, the Buena Vista Board of Education has announced that they will no longer consider switching to a four-day week at this time. 

“The Board considered research-backed impacts on student achievement primarily, and also considered impacts to student health and safety, student behavior, student satisfaction, family needs, childcare availability, and the community overall,” wrote the Board in their statement. “Additionally, the Board recognizes the most commonly cited reasons school districts make this switch are cost savings and teacher retention.”

In December 2021, Buena Vista (BV) Schools included questions about interest in a four-day week in its biannual calendar survey to staff and families. Just over half of the 343 respondents expressed that they supported a four-day week, and many indicated a desire for more information on the logistics and impact of the four-day schedule.

The Board cites evidence that while student achievement results “were wavering at first” in studies conducted from 2011-2015, there were clear decreases in the long term. In addition to concerns about student achievement, the board’s statement also highlights concerns about the impacts of a shorter school week on juvenile crime rates and impacts on student health.

Additionally, their research found no evidence that four-day school weeks improve teacher retention. Cost savings are expected to hover in the one to two percent range compared to a five-day week, coming from staff pay. 

“There is evidence that once a community makes the shift, it prefers the four-day week,” the statement reads. “Family satisfaction is high. Schools generally do not shift back to a five-day week. While challenges exist on the front end of a schedule change, such as child care and activities for students on the off day, the slack is picked up by other partners. Some school districts fill in themselves and end up re-engaging students on the off day in various activities with their own staff. Some school districts partner with other entities or grant programs to fund and operate activities on the off day.”

Overall, the Buena Vista Board of Education said that it believes that while neighboring districts have found success with four-day weeks, the schedule change would not be in the best interest of the student body in meeting the Buena Vista School District’s established ENDS outcomes

“While we recognize that many families would prefer this schedule to align with their family priorities, we do not see that it would be the best option for all families in our school district,” the Board writes. “We believe the downsides to switching to a 4-day week outweigh the potential benefits.”

The Board has made the studies and resources they considered available for the public, including research conducted and presented by Buena Vista High School students in the spring of 2022. For more information, visit the district website or contact the Board of Education

Featured image: Buena Vista High School. Photo by Tara Flanagan.