Sunday, December 23, 2018

Four-day week helps recruit, retain teachers

"Noble Public Schools Superintendent Frank Solomon knew that shortening the school week by one day would be a risky proposition," The Oklahoman reports today. But "the veteran educator didn't want to cut personnel or programs in the 2,900-student district."

No one wants to cut personnel, of course. But taxpayers can't be faulted for asking: If Noble's student population has increased by 10 percent over the last two decades and the teaching workforce has seen a similar growth of 11 percent, why has Noble's non-teaching staff ballooned by 56 percent?

In any case, that's a story for another day. Noble chose to go to a four-day school week, and as The Oklahoman reports:
Solomon said the community response to the change has been "overwhelmingly positive." 
"I think that from a teacher retention and recruitment standpoint, it's been very beneficial," he said. "Who wouldn't prefer a four-day workweek over a five?" 
The switch has resulted in improved student engagement and fewer attendance and discipline issues, Solomon said. "We're maintaining a highly qualified teaching staff, our academics are not suffering, and we're saving some money," he said.
Four-day school weeks aren't merely a money-saving tool, according to Matt Holder, deputy superintendent of finance and programs for the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
"Most of the feedback that I've gotten is that it has moved from a cost-savings (tool) to a teacher-recruitment (tool)," he said. "It seems to be something that teachers in those districts like." 
Little Axe Public Schools Superintendent Jay Thomas said teachers in the 1,300-student district are staying put because "they're not going to go to districts with five-day schools."

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