Survey says: 4-day school week working well for Lake Superior School DistrictA survey given by the Lake Superior School District shows that many people are happy with the four-day school week enacted the last school year.
By: Brittany Berrens, Lake County News Chronicle
A survey given by the Lake Superior School District shows that many people are happy with the four-day school week enacted the last school year.
The surveys were given throughout the month of May to teachers, students, parents, and randomly-selected residents. A report was completed and sent to the Minnesota Department of Education.
State approval of the four-day plan last August meant the district could use the system for three years provided it submitted annual reviews by July 1.
A total of 642 students took the survey.
-More than 70 percent of students said they are less stressed about having time to complete homework than they were during a five-day school week.
-More than 50 percent said they were less tired and about 78 percent said they had more family time.
-More than 93 percent said they have time to work on homework during the school day, with about 75 percent of students who say they have enough time to complete all of their homework during the school day.
-94 percent of students liked the four-day school week overall.
Parents of children in the district were asked to take the online survey as well and 173 parents participated.
-About 78 percent said their child has adapted well to the new school week with no problems.
-More than 46 percent of parents said the four-day week has not affected their child’s school work, but nearly 17 percent said the new schedule has made a negative impact.
-More than 25 percent of parents say the four-day school week has caused problems for their family life, and about 51 percent say it has had a positive impact.
The survey did not ask about child care costs associated with the four-day school week. With kids only being in school for four days a week, some parents were worried about finding child care for Fridays. Superintendent Phil Minkkinen said he hasn’t heard much about child care issues and thinks many parents were able to balance costs because children are in school for an extra 25 minutes a day, allowing more parents to pick kids up from school instead of sending them to a day care for an hour every day.
Teachers were also surveyed to see how a longer school day affected learning. Overall, the survey says teachers think that not much has changed .
-About 54 percent of teachers said the time students have to do school work at school is about the same.
-More than 77 percent said students are doing similar quality work, with 19 percent of teachers reporting that students are doing better work.
-About 52 percent said student behavior is about the same, and 47 percent said behavior was better.
-As far as teaching goes, 67 percent of teachers felt that their classroom teaching was more productive than during a five-day school week. Teachers say they are able to teach about the same amount of material and have about the same amount of planning time.
-Overall, nearly 79 percent of teachers wanted to stay with a four-day school week. Student achievement was the primary reason, said 34 of the teachers who took the survey.
Minkkinen said extra instruction time every day ensures that teachers are able to help students understand what they learned throughout the school day instead of having to reteach lessons the next day. “Our teachers figured out how to use time effectively,” he said.
The increased instructional time each day appears to be paying off. Minkkinen says preliminary state reading test scores show students in almost all categories improving their scores.
Minkkinen said he was surprised with the survey results. He said going into the four-day school week, there were people both for and against the change, but it seems many have adjusted. “You don’t quite know you’re going to be right,” he said. “We did what we said we were going to do and it turned out OK.”
The cost savings didn’t come out as expected. The district was hoping for a savings of $250,000 by switching over to a four-day week. In the end, the total savings came in around $218,000. The largest savings came from transportation costs. The district saw a total savings of $43,000 in the transportation budget. Minkkinen said the savings could have been more if it wasn’t for the sharp increase in diesel fuel costs this year.
Another $18,000 was saved in custodial costs and about $30,000 was saved in utility costs. The district was hoping to save $20,000 in substitute teaching costs, but only saved $6,000. Minkkinen said the district hasn’t done an in-depth analysis to see why there weren’t as much substitute teacher savings.
Minkkinen said that while there were some bumps along the way, he doesn’t foresee making any major changes with how the school days are run now that parents and students have had time to adjust to the new schedule.