A Denver-area school district made an announcement recently that has kids and teachers jumping for joy, but many parents are fuming. Starting in the 2018-2019 school year, kids in Colorado's 27J school district will attend classes Tuesday to Friday, with Mondays off for students and teachers.
School administrators hope the new four-day schedule will help the district attract and retain more highly qualified teachers to the area while also allowing schools to save on busing and utility costs. Giving teachers Mondays off will give them more time to prepare for their classes, work that most teachers do in the evenings and on weekends.
The district estimates that it will save roughly $700,000 per year just in busing costs. The district plans to open some of its locations on Mondays to offer childcare for parents who need it at a flat rate of $30 per day. That's less than the cost of a babysitter or many other childcare options, but more than the zero dollars that parents have been paying while their children were in school.
Been 4 days all my kids school career. It has been wonderful. Family time, time for pursuit of extra curriculars, jobs, as a school board member it was a real incentive to find and keep teachers, professional development.— SSewald (@bertx2) March 19, 2018
In a statement to families released by the school district, school officials recognized the need to make a change in order to fit rising costs into the district's dwindling budget. "I realize this will be a significant change for our students, their families, and the communities we are so fortunate to serve, but our district can no longer be expected to do more with less financial resources,” said 27J Superintendent Dr. Chris Fiedler.
Currently, 55 percent of Colorado's school districts are on a four-day school week, according to the Colorado Department of Education.
Childcare is an issue for some families
Reactions to the decision on social media have been mixed. While some parents and teachers are thrilled, there are still many parents who feel the switch puts an undue burden on families. That leads to a bigger question: When did it become the responsibility of schools to provide childcare while parents are at work?
Who is the imbecile who designed this??? Working people now have to hire/find sitters, or latchkey tv/infotainment on fri's, for their kids? Seems dopey to me.— Joey Ofbeing (@JoeyOfbeing) March 19, 2018
It's not the parents' fault that our modern society has become so heavily dependent on schools for childcare. Many working parents don't have flexible schedules, and even snow days or sick days can be problematic. To make ends meet, working parents need to work — and that generally means five days a week, Monday through Friday. And what about students who depend on subsidized school meals during the week?
District officials say they still have a number of details to work out, and feeding hungry students will be one of them.