The Board of School District 70 is considering moving the district to a four-day week. The four-day week will help alleviate a budget deficit caused, in part, by a sharp decline in student enrollment.
The District 70 budget has to be approved by the end of June each year, but enrollment numbers, on which the budget is based, aren’t known until October. This past year, the unexpected decline in enrollment helped create a $4.5 million budget deficit. The school board is required by state law to balance the budget every year, so the board is looking at some seemingly drastic measures to bring that deficit back down to earth.
Moving to a four-day week would also mean extending the school day. Students would be in school from 8:00 AM to 3:45 PM, approximately. Fall break would go away, and Christmas break would be shortened to two weeks. These changes would allow to district to provide the state-mandated number of instructional hours, in spite of the shortened week.
All of these changes would help trim expenses in a number of ways.
- Transportation and food service costs would be significantly reduced, as buses and kitchens would only operate four days instead of five.
- Teacher absences, which are expensive due to hiring substitutes, would significantly drop off. Teachers would be able to schedule their non-school related appointments on the week day that would now be available.
- Student absences would also drop off, as doctor appointments and family weekend trips could now be scheduled on the extra day.
The school board is also expecting to trim costs through staff attrition. Due to declining enrollment, the district has approximately thirty extra staff members, and many of these will be retiring in the next two years.
The board insists that, although they must make decisions to balance the budget in the very near future, they have not yet made a decision regarding the four day week. They welcome all comments from constituents, and encourage any concerned parent to contact the board.