Four North Dakota schools have applied to transition to a four-day week in the 2020-21 school year.
School districts had a March 1 deadline to submit applications to North Dakota's Department of Public Instruction outlining their plans and evidence to restructure their school week from five days to four.
Twelve schools in North Dakota are on four-day weeks for at least part of the current school year, up from six last year. All but one of those are public schools. School districts already operating on four-day weeks have until July 1 to apply for an initial one-year extension or an additional five-year extension.
The four applications to transition during the 2020-21 school year are from:
- Hillcrest Seventh-Day Adventist Elementary, Jamestown
- White Shield School District, Roseglen
- Eight Mile School District, Trenton
- Mandaree School District, Mandaree
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The latter three are public K-12 schools, each one building.
Department spokesman Dale Wetzel said a group of department administrators will review and discuss the applications and decide whether to recommend their approval. Their recommendations will go to Assistant Superintendent Laurie Matzke before review by State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler for her final decision.
Wetzel said the reviews should be completed within two weeks.
The provision in state law allowing for four-day weeks has been around since at least 1999. But it wasn't until 2014 that East Fairview and Dunseith became the first school districts in the state to adopt it. A move by the 2019 Legislature made it easier for schools to implement a four-day week by shifting how yearly minimum instruction time is tracked, to hours rather than days. That gave schools more flexibility.
Proponents of the four-day school week say it improves attendance, appeals to teachers who may not otherwise choose to work in that district, and can help cut costs. Opponents argue that longer school days may be harmful to students, and that finding child care for younger children on weekdays is difficult on families.
Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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