MARSHFIELD, Mo. – After much deliberation and debate, the Marshfield School Board has voted to adopt a four-day school week amid shortages of teachers, substitutes, staff and bus drivers.
The school board voted Jan. 24 to start the four-day week in August. Teachers from every grade attended the meeting along with several parents and families.
Marshfield School District Superintendent Mike Henry spoke about the potential changes on numerous occasions, and gave prior presentations before a final decision was made.
With the new four-day model students will attend school from Tuesday through Friday, with 26 minutes added to each day’s schedule to offset decreased classroom time. Teachers will be required to attend at least two Mondays per month for work sessions and other meetings.
The district hopes to attract new employees throughout its schools and retain the staff members it currently has.
Local parent Amanda Pitts has a niece in Marshfield schools and has faith in the four-day model, as her children attend a school district where a similar structure is in place. Pitts said her children’s academic acceleration has greatly improved since switching to the four-day week.
Additionally, Pitts’ mother has been an educator for 20 years in the same district her children attend. Pitts feels both her mother and children’s quality of life has improved greatly because of the extra free day.
“I’ve seen her work the five-day model and the four-day model,” said Pitts. “She can prepare all of her lessons over the weekend and have one day to not have to do anything with teaching. She can take her Mondays off and make all of her appointments. She doesn’t have to have a substitute for different appointments that she has.”
Pitts said the new school schedule also helped her children in other areas aside from academics. Her son had disciplinary issues at his former five-day school in Springfield, but since moving into the four-day district, his actions have greatly improved. According to Pitts, the graduation rates have improved within the school system as well.
Henry said the school district is working with a third-party company to try to bring a childcare program to Marshfield Schools for students during the extra day off. If the two cannot strike a deal, then the district would move ahead with an internal plan.
Henry also said the school would take the child care students on field trips to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real-life situations.
“We want that to be a very positive experience emotionally and academically for children,” Henry said.