In the months since Johnson County Schools Superintendent Jim Wagner surveyed parents regarding moving Buffalo schools to a four-day school week, we have received many letters both for and against the proposal.
Last month, we heard one of the strongest arguments against a four-day week, and it came from district principals.
During a public meeting held to discuss a shortened school day, Cloud Peak Elementary School Principal Craig Anderson said that by three o’clock, many elementary school students are tired and their attention levels wane.
So Anderson and Meadowlark Elementary School Principal Laurie Graves proposed shortening the school day by 40 minutes for kindergarten through fifth grade, a move that was precipitated by doing what’s best for student education as well as a new curriculum being implemented next year in those grades.
District administrators say shortening the school day will allow for teachers across the two elementary schools and grade levels to collaborate. Graves said teachers would use that time to learn the new curriculum, share ideas and create the best possible learning environment for students.
We appreciate academics being the motive behind the change. We can’t say the same for the proposed four-day school week.
While Anderson and Graves weren’t arguing against a four-day week, their rationale for shortening the school day really begs the question of how a four-day school week would benefit Buffalo’s youngest students.
Shortening the school week to four days would mean lengthening each day by roughly an hour. If younger students are exhausted as it is, how will they manage an even longer day?
There is no conclusive evidence that a four-day week used by schools with similar enrollments has a positive impact on academics. So it would appear that the motive behind a four-day week is solely based on scheduling school around extracurricular activities.
Extracurricular activities are important in our district. They help students learn discipline, commitment and teamwork. But those extracurriculars are just that – extra. If being gone from school a few of days a month proves to be too much for some students, it’s imprudent to think the school’s academic calendar should change as a result.