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As public schools around the country face crippling budget cuts, some of them have gotten creative with how to save money.
The answer? Roughly 100 school districts have decided to implement a four-day week. And in Colorado, more than 33 percent of districts have given the thumbs up to the shortened week.
While kids might be jumping for joy at the thought of an extended weekend — at the cost of more hours spent at school during the shortened week — parents, on the other hand, might be caught doing some serious double takes.
After all, does that extra day mean shelling out more money for daycare and activities? And will kids' learning suffer from having longer breaks from the classroom?
For schools, it's a theoretical savings of about 20 percent — 20 percent less spent on things like busing, utilities and custodial costs. However, as TestTube.com reports, the actual savings end up ringing in closer to 0.4 to 2.5 percent per year.
Looking specifically at Colorado schools, researchers from Georgia State University and Montana State University studied the impact of a four-day week on fourth- and fifth-grade students, looking at fourth-grade reading and fifth-grade math scores from the Colorado Student Assessment Program.
What the researchers found surprised them.
They saw a "statistically significant impact on math scores for fifth-grade students, while reading scores were not affected," according to Science Daily.
"What interested me about our results is they were completely opposite to what we anticipated," Mary Beth Walker, dean of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State, said in a statement. "We thought that especially for the younger, elementary school kids, longer days on a shorter school week would hurt their academic performance because their attention spans are shorter. Also, a longer weekend would give them more opportunity to forget what they had learned."
Researchers also noted that there was not a negative effect on reading. The complete findings were published in July in the journal Education, Finance and Policy.
And as for what parents can do with kids on their extra day off? Researchers speculated that those days could work well for things like doctor and dentist appointments, which have to be worked into the school week and take kids away from school. Parents could also schedule trips with children and not impact their studies. As Walker speculated, "a four-day week lowered absenteeism" for kids as well as teachers.
While these results applied only to "smaller and more rural school districts," school districts in Oregon, Missouri, Florida and Georgia are reportedly considering the changes as well.