Schools Respond To Mass Teacher Crisis

Several school districts in Texas have recently switched to a four-day school week, joining the growing number of schools nationwide that are cutting back on school days due to teacher shortages.

The Utopia, La Vernia, and the Natalia school districts are among those that have gone to four-day weeks.

According to Superintendent Gary Bitzkie, the new policy will hopefully increase enrollment and teacher satisfaction.

In 25 states, four-day school weeks have been implemented in nearly 900 districts, affecting about 2,100 schools. This represents a substantial rise of approximately 850 percent since 1999. 

2018, the new model was implemented in the 27J school district in Colorado, located north of Denver. The decision was made to attract and retain more teachers, according to Superintendent Chris Fiedler, who explained that the district’s lower pay rate was compared to neighboring districts with more significant funding.

Fiedler said this is a strategy for hiring when the district can’t match or beat the salaries of nearby areas.

According to the research, students who had their education interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic may fare worse under a four-day week.

Students’ health, physical activity, supervision on the day off, availability of school meals, opportunities for physical education, child care, and the four-day week model are additional factors that Thompson brought up.

Problems with teacher shortages are plaguing states across the country.

Legislators in some states also look at ways to encourage teachers to stay or return to the profession. While lawmakers in Utah have proposed paying certain teachers a bonus of $20,000, their counterparts in Florida are debating a measure to encourage retired educators to return to the workforce.

Data shows both pros and cons. Five states—South Dakota, Idaho, Missouri, and New Mexico—were analyzed in a Rand Corp. study. The results showed that districts using four-day school weeks saw slower progress in student achievement when compared to districts using the traditional five-day week.