INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The Independence school board voted Tuesday night to approve a 4-day school week starting next school year.

It’s the largest district in the state to make that move, according to ISD Superintendent Dale Herl.

It was no longer time to deliberate. The decision was made, even as one board member tried his best to delay the vote to allow for more public input.  

But the four-day school week passed without question, joining 25 percent of other school districts across the state of Missouri who have already made the move. 

More than 140 districts in Missouri follow a four-day learning week model, according to Missouri State University. But most of these districts are small or rural.

“Our number one priority is always going to be the education and safety of our kids and we’re looking for ways in a time where you are seeing people leave the profession of teaching, we’re looking for ways to be innovative,” said Megan Murphy, an Independence School District spokesperson.

How the 4-day school week will work

Herl said ISD is pushing the system change to retain and hire staff.

“We think this is a way to ensure that we have our very best people,” Herl said.

The district believes this will help to retain teachers and even attract more to the area. 

“We’ve already seen a 40% increase in the number of teacher applications so overall staff more than 30% increase in applications that’s not normal for this time of year,” Murphy said.

Students next school year will now attend class Tuesday-Friday. Herl said there’s no lost instruction time.

Teachers will have off three Mondays. Then, one day will be a workday or professional development day.

“I think there is going to be a lot of teachers who end up working more because they’re going to work longer days those four days and they’re going to end up working Mondays,” said Brandy Pruente, who spoke before the board’s decision.  

Independence parents share concerns

A common concern among parents is where to take their child on Mondays, especially the little ones.

Pruente, who has three kids in the Independence School District, worries the cost for the entire year will be expensive.

“If I want to use the district services, I’m going to spend like $1,400 putting them in childcare,” Pruente said

“That is not an accurate number. We have balanced the cost of increase of child care, but we’ve also extended the time and prorated the rates to try and make it as even as we possibly can,” Murphy said.

Parent of two current students Beckie Fite appreciates ISD paving a new way, but she wasn’t always on board with the big change.

“At first, I thought it would just be so difficult,” Fite said. “It’s very complicated, it just seems like too big of an elephant to eat even one bite at a time.”

Herl said the district will provide child care, and preparing that plan from now to the 2023-24 school year would also be the district’s biggest challenge.

“We would also have enrichment activities for those students if they choose to come,” Herl said. “It would include everything from field trips to tutoring and for our high school students it would be an available of college classes as well.”

After more thought and discussion, Fite flipped to the “yes” camp. But above all, she wants the students to come first.

“The kids first, the staff second and then the parents figure it out,” Fite said. “As a parent I’m good with that.”

Independence School District’s statement

The district sent out the below statement to families after the vote: 

Good evening, 

The Independence School District will move to a four-day instructional week beginning in the 2023-2024 school year.  

Please continue to use our online Four Day Instructional Week Information Center for information as district leadership works on the continued planning and implementation of next steps. 

Our priority is the safety and education of ISD students, and we appreciate our families, staff, and community groups who partner with us in this goal. Thank you for all you do for the students of the Independence School District. 

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