Four-day school week survey to be studied

By William Thompson:Quay County Sun

Survey leads school officials to continue research on issue.

Tucumcari wants a four-day school week. At least that’s the overwhelming viewpoint of more than 200 residents who’ve returned surveys on the topic.

Tucumcari school officials sent out 736 surveys earlier this year asking students’ families and school staff how they feel about moving from a five-day school week to a four-day school week. More than 200 surveys have returned and 84 percent of the surveys report a favorable response to a four-day week.

Now, Superintendent William Reents has been asked by school board members to form a committee to study the issue more.

“The committee will be composed of staff members and administration personnel, “ Reents said. “We will discuss a time line whereby we can see how long it will take to move to a four-day week if that’s what we decide to do.”

Reents told board members at a meeting Thursday that he has discussed the four-day week with administrators in districts where the four-day week is in place. He said those administrators said the four-day week had been a positive experience for their districts.

“In our surveys, those not in favor were concerned about what they were going to do with their children on that fifth day,” Reents said. “Some parents said they were in favor of the four-day week because it offered them more ‘family time.’”

Board member Marty Garcia said if the four-day week were put to a vote now, he would oppose it.

“I think we should make sure that we have activities on Fridays and day-care services in place in the community before we proceed,” Garcia said. “The number of surveys returned to us is low and I don’t think the results are scientific.”

Board member Albert “Scooter” Mitchell said if the four-day week is good for students, then Tucumcari schools should move immediately to institute a four-day week.

But Reents cautioned that the attorney for Tucumcari schools has urged patience in the matter.
School officials have estimated they could save $1 million annually by changing to a four-day system, if buildings and buses are not used on Fridays.

But Reents said money is not the issue.

“We would want to do it for academic reasons,” Reents said.

He said students would attend school anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour longer per school day if the district adopts a four-day school week.