INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Leaders in one Jackson County school district are considering a big schedule shift.

On Tuesday night, the Independence School District’s board voted to consider the benefits of a four-day instructional week. This will not affect the school year that begins Aug. 22.

More than 25% of Missouri school districts have shifted — or are in the process of shifting — to a four-day schedule. Independence leaders anticipate a long decision-making process that could last months, and affect more than 14,000 students and their families.

“You’re impacting students and families and parents, so we don’t want to rush into this,” Superintendent Dr. Dale Herl said.

Herl said fewer universities are producing education majors, which gives school districts fewer job candidates to consider. As the school year opens, the Independence School District’s teaching staff is completely full. But his district wonders if a four-day class schedule might help retain existing staff members.

“This was intended as a way to have a positive impact on our staff and retain them, but also, what we hear from our staff and families is trying to have that life-work balance,” Herl added.

“Certainly, nothing has been decided. We wanted to give our community a heads up to let them know this is something we’re looking at. We will use a good portion of this year to look at the research.”

Child care concerns for families will weigh into this decision. Herl and his peers are aware many families depend on schools to keep their kids while they go to work. Independence School District would become Missouri’s largest school district to use a four-day schedule if this is eventually approved. 

“It’s less days for kids to be sitting in another building and having to get instruction and follow directions all day,” Rayanna Perryman, a parent of three, said.

“That’s super stressful,” Aubree Dinsfriend, also a parent of three, said. “I want all the kids to have a good time growing up in education and to feel secure and at peace with where they are during the day.”

Plans remain for the 2022-23 school year to utilize a traditional five-day school schedule. 

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