Baker, Montana – The Baker School Board of Trustees is looking into the possibility of having a 4-day week at Baker Public Schools. They started a survey to understand what people involved with the school (like teachers, students, parents, and locals) think about this idea. This survey started on Friday, December 22, and was shared on Facebook and the school’s website, www.baker.k12.mt.us. It will stay open until Friday, January 5, 2024.
4-day school week is not new thing in Montana
A lot of schools in Montana have already changed to a 4-day week. This change is becoming more common in Montana and across the United States, not just a passing trend. In Montana, smaller Class C schools have been doing this for a while, and now, bigger Class B and some Class A schools are also adopting it.
Before making such a change in Baker schools, it’s key to know what the district wants to achieve by switching to a 4-day week. The main goals are: 1) Attracting and keeping teachers, and 2) Improving how happy and motivated the staff and students are. Since there are fewer teachers available for jobs, schools that offer a shorter work week with a longer weekend have a better chance of getting good teachers employed.
For Baker, especially being in a rural area where it’s far to reach other places, switching to a 4-day school week might be more challenging. Schools that have done this noticed a big boost in the happiness and well-being of their staff and students. Teachers and students get more time to rest and take care of their personal lives, helping them prepare better for the coming week. This change also gives families more time together, which was harder to find when kids had school five days a week.
Thinking about a 4-day week for Baker schools means considering many things. Some questions include: Will there ever be classes on Fridays? If not, what about childcare for families? Might the school provide activities or extra help on Fridays for those interested? What impact will this have on the time spent teaching kids? How long will each school day be? Will there be fewer vacation days? Could the school year extend into June or start earlier in August since there’s no school on Fridays?
To make a decision like this, the district needs to work together to answer all these questions. This will help it have a clear plan and goals if they decide to switch to a 4-day week. Right now, they are just collecting early information for the Board of Trustees.
How Baker Public Schools plans to implement this
If they go for a 4-day school week, they must make sure that students still get enough learning time, as the State requires. For younger kids in grades K-3, they need at least 720 hours of classes in a year. For older students in grades 4-12, it’s 1,080 hours. In a sample schedule the district made, Lincoln Elementary would start at 8:15 a.m. and end at 3:20 p.m. Also, Longfellow Elementary and the Junior High/High School (grades 7-12) would start at 8 a.m. and finish at 3:40 p.m. to meet these requirements.
These suggested times are based on a school year of 155 days, shorter than the current 179 days. But this is just a starting plan. The district can adjust the days and hours to make sure they meet the required teaching hours. There are many ways to create a 4-day school week schedule, as long as it follows the State’s rules for teaching hours. It’s important to know that even with fewer days in school, students and teachers will still have the same total hours of class time across the year.
As the district keeps talking about this and find good answers to the questions, they plan to do another survey. They plan to ask teachers, students, parents, and the community again for their opinions. This will help the district get more information and ideas. The Superintendent of Baker Public Schools appreciates everyone who took part in this first survey.