Peoria School District considers change to four day school week

Despite protests against cuts to education, Governor Doug Ducey formally signed the state budget Thursday. The $9.1 billion budget is slightly smaller than last year. But some believe it comes at a price.

As a result, some districts are trying to find new ways to save money. Earlier this month Apache Junction Schools voted in favor of a four-day school week, and now another valley district is considering the same.

These are the real-life consequences of the state budget; cuts to education playing out in the Peoria Unified School District as the school board talked about cutting to a four-day school week.

They say they can't afford to keep kids in the classroom for five days a week. The district carried out a study on the issue and found that the majority of parents are opposed to the idea while district employees including teachers are in favor of it.

"I'm somewhere between offended and appalled," said one parent.

Peoria parents are angry at even considering the change; a survey showed 52% of parents opposed the four-day school week, and 39% said they would pull their kids out of the district if it happened.

"I'm against a four day week, but that doesn't mean that I am for cutting nurses, assistant principals, district office personnel, etc... my top concern is that the content will suffer," said another parent.

The survey also showed 73% of staff supported the change. "I feel that the four-day school week would be financially responsible, we could adjust to the budget cuts by reducing the utility costs, food service, and transportation for starters," said an employee.

The move would save the district about $4 million and also save some jobs. It would make the school days longer for students, and some spoke in favor of that.

"I believe a four-day school week would benefit our school district. We would save a lot of money and be able to keep our nurses, librarians, and all of the special needs classes that we have and their aides," said a student.

Many blamed state lawmakers for having to make this tough decision. "If a child stole from your ice cream store, would you make him pay back the entire amount he stole? Our state has taken money from children over and over, and they are planning on not giving it back, and it's making me mad, and it's making me frustrated as a teacher and somebody who has been in this business for 20 years," said a teacher.

No decision was made, the school board is debating the idea and will vote later. 

Peoria Unified School District is the fifth largest school district in Arizona and serves about 37,000 students. If the district did changeover to four days a week, they would be the largest district in the state to do so. 
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