BISD considering four-day week
Amid a growing issue of recruiting and retaining teachers, four-day school weeks are gaining popularity in rural Texas. According to a July report from Texas American Federation of Teachers, nearly 43,000 teachers in Texas alone left their jobs, with 66% of teachers in a statewide poll saying they would consider leaving theirs.
Districts across the state, including neighboring districts, Moran ISD and Woodson ISD, have already adopted a four-day calendar. Currently Breckenridge ISD is considering whether a four or five day schedule would best suit the needs of both staff and students alike. BISD Superintendent Bryan Allen said he has reached out to some of those districts and is using their feedback in order to make an informed decision.
Allen said it’s important to make the decision far enough in advance to allow time to plan and make adjustments as necessary, and that a need of adequate planning seems to be the main point of advice from outside districts.
“I talked to a district that said (...) they felt like they didn’t have quite the time to plan and to get everything pulled together the way they really liked to have it,” Allen said. “I’ve yet to come across a district that says it was the worst thing they’ve ever done and ‘we’re going back to five days.’ I haven’t had that. (...) I don’t know that they’re going to tell you all the negatives, but the one consistent, not negative, but the concern that everybody’s had is just the planning and timing of it. Make sure if you’re going to move in that direction, you give yourself plenty of time to do that and look through all the logistics.”
Four-day schedules are being used across the state as a means of recruiting and retaining educators within the school systems, in order to provide school children with the education and experience they need.
“Texas, and the nation in fact, is in a huge teacher shortage, bus driver shortage, paraprofessional shortage. Just about anybody we employ right now, we’re short on. We have to try to be competitive and try to think outside the box,” Allen said. “We can’t just give everybody raises, there’s a finite amount of money there. It would be nice, but that’s not reality. (...) So that’s one of the first things we thought of, ‘would this be a way to be both a recruitment tool and a retention tool with working one less day?”
Allen said since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers are having to do even more than what was expected of them ten years ago. According to Allen, more keeps getting piled on and is starting to take its toll on both staff and students.
“We’re starting to see some mental health challenges. Whether it be stress or anxiety or even something worse, you’re starting to see that take a hold on society in general. As a school superintendent, I see it affecting our kids and our staff,” Allen said. “So that’s the other thing you look at and ask how could a move to a four-day week help some of those things.”
A recent survey was conducted online and sent to community members, staff, parents and students within BISD.
Respondents included 285 parents and community members, with 218 staff members out of 247 total responding. Allen said while a parent and community response of 285 may seem low, the average response to parent satisfaction surveys sent out each year is only around 70.
Out of the responses, about 78% of the parents and community are in favor of moving to a four-day week, with approximately half of the staff in support.
Another 26% of staff say they would be in favor of it, depending on the structure of the program.