Arizona school district approves 4-day school week

A school district west of Phoenix has agreed to move to a four-day school week after months of research and community feedback.

In a news release from Liberty Elementary School District (LESD) on Nov. 14, it was announced the district that serves more than 4,500 students in Buckeye and Goodyear will shorten its school week.

The K-8 students will observe the new schedule in the upcoming 2023-2024 school year.

"The decision comes after months of research, community discussions and surveys. The idea was first explored last year as a cost savings measure in response to failing to pass a budget override. After surveying staff and families in the spring, it was clear this idea garnered initial support regardless of how much money it saved. For that reason, combined with the potential to better recruit teachers in a nationwide shortage, the idea was further explored," the news release read.

A committee was formed and met several times to research, develop four-day plan options, and go over the pros and cons.

"The LESD administration recognizes that while this change may be viewed favorably by some, it is also not the first choice for some of our staff members and families. Much work lies ahead to adjust calendars, contracts and other logistics to line up with this new four-day week," the district said.

Students will have an extra 40 minutes tacked onto their school day, but in exchange, they'll have Fridays off.

61% of parents who took the school survey voted in favor of the change – 39% voted against it.

The school district recognizes the concerns of parents and teachers but explains why the board made the decision.

"This decision wasn't taken lightly," said LESD superintendent Dr. Lori Shough. "The district first considered this as a potential budget savings move. We learned that it may not make much of a budget impact, but we did recognize it would make a very significant impact on teacher retention and recruitment."

When it comes to students, the school district will adjust after-school programs so school care services can be provided on Fridays for students who need it. As far as the workload for teachers, explains, "Our teachers will work the 4-day week during the school week, and then about every other Friday, they'll have a workday here in the district for other things."

Shough says the four-day school week is here to stay.