OKLAHOMA CITY – A recent study by the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) casts doubt on the assumption that switching to a four-day school week saves money for districts.
For the 2016-17 school year, the number of districts on a four-day school week nearly doubled from the previous year. Ninety-seven districts have made the switch, many citing cost savings as a primary reason amid continued budget shortfalls.
The study, requested by Gov. Mary Fallin, analyzed expenditures of 16 school districts that have been on a four-day school week for six years. Results indicate that nine districts actually spent more money, on average, after the switch, while cost savings for the remainder were negligible.
When OSDE combined expenditures of all 16 districts, those districts spent on average $4,523 more on utilities, $2,714 less on food, $1,971 less on transportation and $8,542 more on support staff after switching to a four-day week than they had spent before the change.
“I appreciate the fact that districts are trying to cut expenses however they can,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. “But we are very concerned about how this impacts children. We risk losing academic momentum when what we need is more time on learning, not less.”
To see the study and read more about the districts analyzed, click here.
“School boards care deeply about students, but it is important that they have accurate information,” said Hofmeister. ”There is a perception that there will be significant cost savings from a four-day school week, but the results of our survey were inconclusive, and the savings that did occur were very marginal. We believe the cost to students is far too great to consider the four-day week as a long-term strategy.“
A measure in this year’s state legislative session, House Bill 1684, would require districts considering a four-day school week to submit a plan to OSDE detailing the goals that the district hopes to accomplish by shortening the school week. The measure is authored by Rep. Harold Wright and Sen. Eddie Fields.
“A plan would help spell out the anticipated savings,” Hofmeister said. “It will allow districts to go back and measure results. This is really about kids, and providing both local control and accountability. We want to make sure that schools have what they need and that our students are able to receive the best education possible.”