INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Missouri lawmakers are reacting to the Independence school board’s decision to move to four-day weeks. That change takes effect next school year and it has politicians on both sides concerned.
They’re worried about students losing a day of learning with some lawmakers saying they might even pull their kids out of the Independence School District.
The district says switching to a four-day week will help retain and recruit teachers. But some aren’t convinced it’s a positive solution.
State Representative Robert Sauls (D-Independence) is opposed to a 4-day week.
“I don’t specifically support it. I don’t like the idea,” he said.
The Independence lawmaker’s son is a middle schooler in the district but he tells FOX4 he may reconsider his future with ISD.
“How does it impact the education? Are kids going to fall behind? Are kids going to fall behind because there’s one additional day a week they won’t have instruction?”
His concerns also shared by State Senator John Rizzo — who has two daughters in the district.
He wasn’t able to speak with FOX4 but took to Twitter saying, “As much as we love our kids’ school and teachers, my wife and I will be having some hard conversations about keeping them in a district that doesn’t value a 5-day work/school week.”
The Missouri Democratic Party also weighing in on the issue with a Wednesday news release — voicing their opposition to the four-day week. Its title says it all, “Independence School Board’s Vote Puts Students Last.”
“I think it’s important to remember what our school district’s primary function, and that’s to educate kids. To do that to our best ability, we have to have the very best staff available, and we think this accomplishes that,” said Independence School District Superintendent Dale Herl.
This four-day school week was passed by lawmakers more than a decade ago to help with the recession – not with teacher recruitment and retention. Now the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is concerned about what this means for the 14,000 ISD students.
“Research would tell you that extending the time for our youngest learners is not meaningful,” said Mallory McGowin, DESE Chief Communications Officer. “It’s something that needs to be studied.”
The issue also worrisome to newly-elected State Rep Aaron McMullen, a Republican representing Independence. He tells us the change to a four-day week puts an unnecessary burden on working families already struggling to make ends meet.
More than 140 Missouri schools have implemented a shortened week. However, most are in rural areas.
ISD has 14,000 students, the second largest district in the state with a four-day week has just 3,000.
The district says it will lengthen the hours students are in class on those four days.
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