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Blackfoot School District weighing switch to 4-day week

Blackfoot School District
The Blackfoot School District office.

BLACKFOOT, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - The Blackfoot School District is considering switching from a five-day week to a four-day week in an effort to "recruit and retain" highly qualified teachers.

The idea has always been a topic of discussion in the Blackfoot community, according to Superintendent Brian Kress.

"I've always been opposed to it," he said, "but, as I started looking at the landscape...I decided it might be time to reevaluate our stance."

Kress said the move would allow the district to stand out in a very competitive market for teachers and give both students and teachers a morale boost.

"Just having more recuperation time, education can be a bit tiring and so having an extra day to recoup and reenergize may make both students and teachers more effective," he explained.

The district has not made any decisions yet, but they have begun to survey teachers, students and parents about the idea. The elementary parents are the ones that Kress really wants feedback from.

"I think a four-day school week would probably have the most impact on them," he said.

Those surveys are currently being collected and the district should have the results sometime next week.

Should the district choose to continue down this path, Kress said it would not impact the salaries of teachers and "most staff," as the workweek would have the same number of hours.

To achieve this, the district would eliminate early release Mondays and add approximately 35 minutes to each period of the day on Monday.

Kress said that there is no financial reason behind his changed stance to the shorter week.

"I am not interested in the amount of money we can save. Will it happen? Maybe. That is not the reason I am going down this path," he said. "I truly believe the best thing I can do for all students is put a highly effective, highly qualified teacher in front of them, whether it's four days or whether it's five."

A district-wide staff meeting was held last week to discuss the potential change. Kress said there appeared to be some excitement surrounding the idea.

Instead of considering the four-day week the loss of an instructional Friday, Kress sees it as an opportunity for the potential of an "open Friday."

"I don't want to get ahead of myself, but maybe we could have community centers on Friday, a Friday school for those that need support, tutoring, things like that."

One of the biggest complaints that Kress receives is that teachers are not accessible for support beyond what happens in the classroom.

"Maybe an open Friday can address that," he said.

According to a 2015 study, 42 of Idaho's 115 school districts had made the switch to four-day weeks.

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