CHANNING, Texas (Nexstar) — School districts across Texas have come up with a new plan to deal with their teacher shortage: cutting the school week down to four days.
This is a major help to some but could be challenging for parents.
Channing ISD in West Texas has only one school for all of its students, Kindergarten through 12th grade.
“I was a coach too,” Karlton Graves, a nine-year veteran of the district, said. “The burnout was major.”
Graves is now the principal of Channing. He said four-day school weeks will take a load off.
“That’s one of our major selling points — it’s one less day. We’re only going to bring the teachers in maybe a couple of times throughout the year on a Friday,” Graves said.
Channing ISD is now one of several rural districts in the state that has made the switch.
District Superintendent Dr. Misty Heiskell said it’s hard to compete with other, bigger districts that pay teachers about $7,000 more.
“When inflation hits and things go up, we need to be able to find ways to compensate our teachers or offer benefit packages that will draw them back to the school setting,” Heiskell said.
The move is also meant to attract more students.
“We’re in a small town,” Heiskell said. “Majority of our students are transfer students.”
Parents in the districts that have made the change are now preparing to figure out childcare on Fridays. According to Heiskell, Channing ISD is working on addressing that.
“We did lose a couple of students because parents working five days,” Heiskell said. “One of the things we want to look at… is have some type of activity or be able to open our building on those Fridays for kids who don’t have a place to go.”
Graves thinks this will help reinvent the district, making it one that families want their kids to be a part of.
“It’s going to save a lot a lot of people’s energy,” Graves said.
Olfen ISD in West Texas became the state’s first district to switch to a four-day week in 2016.
The Texas Education Agency doesn’t currently track how many districts do this. However, it said as long a district meets the threshold for 75,600 in-person operational minutes for the school year, they do have the flexibility to do what’s best for their communities.