A rural county in Georgia is attracting nationwide attention for scrapping the five-day school week.
Students in Chattooga County, Georgia, attend school Tuesday through Friday, reports Yahoo Parenting. In a time when many school districts nationwide face difficult budget cuts, this county might have found an innovative way to pinch pennies.
“Everything comes down to the dollar, and by switching to a four-day week, we have one day less to pay for gas for the school buses, substitute teachers and power for the school buildings,” Chattooga High School principal Jeff Martin told Yahoo Parenting.
“Because we save money, we don’t have to do what other school districts do when they have budget problems, like cut out electives such as music and gym,” he added.
Students can have fewer absences than with the five-day schedule, since parents can schedule necessary appointments on Mondays, Martin said. Test scores are higher, students have more uninterrupted learning time, and longer weekends may increase their focus, reports WSB-TV.
"I like it better than five days a week because you get Monday off and it's not as stressful," student T.J. Worsham told WSB-TV.
Students do have a longer school day packed into their shorter week -- the day begins at 7:40 a.m. and ends at 3:45 p.m. -- but the school maintains the same vacation and holiday schedule as other districts, and meets the required number of school hours per year.
While this looks to be an appealing way to avoid cutting necessary programs in a budget crisis, critics suggest that this system has serious flaws.
“It’s wonderful to save money, but I wonder if momentum and focus are lost when kids have three days off,” educational psychologist and consultant Lori Day told Yahoo Parenting.
The most dangerous time of day for kids is after they finish school but before their parents come home, Day said, since they have opportunities to get into trouble, especially in unsafe neighborhoods.
“This is why a lot of urban school districts have extended the school day and year, because they know their kids are safer in school than out of it,” Day said.