Blackduck School District hopes to keep four-day school week
The Blackduck School District is one of nearly a dozen districts in Minnesota with a four-day school week and it hopes to stay that way.
Recently, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius told seven of the 11 districts to return to the five-day school week, giving them until the 2015-16 academic year to make the change.
Blackduck wasn’t one of the seven that had their plans rejected as they don’t have to apply for another year, but Superintendent Wally Schoeb said that the district does plan to apply in 2015.
“What we will do is write a plan and submit it next year for approval and see what happens,” Schoeb said. “The four-day week has been very friendly to the Blackduck School District.”
Schoeb said that the district will begin compiling statistics for the application to submit around the first of the year.
Blackduck has seen positive results from the four-day week including an increase in test scores and a decrease in absences. Schoeb said one negative effect of the four-day week is that longer school days create later nights for extracurricular activities.
High school English teacher Jesse Carey began teaching in Blackduck in 2005 and the school made the switch in 2009.
“In terms of instruction we’ve added 10 minutes to each class and it’s incredibly helpful for completing a lesson during the class period,” Carey said. “So believe it or not I actually get more done in a year than when we went five days.”
Carey said that the extra 10 minutes gives students more “startup and shutdown time,” which equates to less time wasted during the school year.
Schoeb said that the district saves about $100,000 in transportation costs per year and also some in food service and maintenance.
Blackduck also benefited from having Mondays off when severe weather struck most of Minnesota this past winter and school’s dealt with many cancellations. The district only suffered one full-day cancellation and one late start.
“Another thing that happens here is our teachers come in and work on Monday we provide remedial reading class or extra credit,” Schoeb said. “I’d like to contribute (district success) to the good educational staff we have, the good parents we have and the opportunities provided on that Monday for students to get individual attention, which they normally wouldn’t get.”