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4-Day school week shows success in Blackduck

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More time spent with family, increased test scores, less absences and not having to attend school in June are all benefits the Blackduck School District has seen of its four-day school week.

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With the harsh winter and weather-related cancellations, many schools in the area are having to decide what they will do to make up missed time. The Bemidji School District has had five cancellations, three late starts and one early dismissal.

Fortunately for Blackduck, the majority of the severe weather causing schools to close impacted the area on Mondays.

Blackduck is ahead of the rest of the area having only one full day canceled and four late starts.

The one day that has been missed will be made up March 10. If another day is missed, Superintendent Wally Schoeb has planned another make-up day March 19.

Those were days that Schoeb has built into the district’s calendar to use as make-up days. The district hadn’t done that before Schoeb began in Blackduck in 2012.

“Then, people know what to expect rather than have to make adjustments last minute,” Schoeb said.

Last year, the Blackduck School District had to cancel school twice.

The benefits of the four-day school week, which has been in place since the 2009-10 school year, go beyond less weather-related cancellations.

“We’re finding that the parents have more family time,” Schoeb said of the three-day weekend.

Students and staff have also been able to schedule personal appointments on Mondays, which has led to less absences on both ends.

An increase in test scores has been observed in Blackduck since the change was made four years ago, so the change has also been positive for academics, as well.

“Our test scores are higher,” Schoeb said. “I attribute that to our staff and to our parents for doing a good job with the kids.”

Schoeb also noted that there are more contact minutes for Blackduck than in schools with normal five-day weeks.

The only disadvantage that Schoeb claimed was that students don’t get out of school until 4:20 p.m.

There are 10 other school districts in Minnesota that have implemented the four-day school week.

“Some four-day school weeks aren’t successful in some districts, but in our particular case, it has been successful,” Schoeb said.

Pending School Board approval, Schoeb said that the district will likely apply to the Minnesota Department of Education to continue its four-day school week at the end of the 2014-15 school year. Districts have to apply every three years.

“I’m assuming they [school board] would go for a four-day week because we’ve had a lot of positive feedback,” Schoeb said.

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