The Linn R-2 School District is moving to a four-day school week in the 2020-21 school year.
The Board of Education authorized the move at its Oct. 21 meeting.
Prior to the vote, the district’s students, staff and community members were surveyed about making the switch to fewer days, Osage County Linn R-2 Superintendent Dena Smith said. At this time, the decision has not been made which four days of the week will be school days, Smith said.
The concept was raised, she said, to solve retention issues with support staff as well as burnout among students, Smith said.
As the district explored the idea of four-day weeks, Smith reached out to 30 other schools that had switched to four-day weeks.
“Some of the things that they indicated were the biggest benefits of a four-day week were things that we were struggling with,” she said. “We were definitely interested in trying to determine ways to help, that such as teacher retention, staff retention and competitive salaries.”
Smaller districts are in competition with larger surrounding schools who can pay support staff, such as paraprofessionals, more money, she said. A shorter work week could make a smaller district more attractive to potential staff.
Other districts also reported a positive change in student energy levels after moving to a four-day week. In a small district, many of the same students are involved in multiple activities. By January or February, the students show signs of exhaustion, Smith said.
“Being able to have that extra day provided the students with a little bit more time to rest and recuperate,” she said.
Currently, 610 students are enrolled in Linn R-2 while about 100 employees create the faculty and staff team.
The district’s survey asked if students, staff and community members would be in favor of the four-day school week even if dismissal moved between 3:45-4 p.m.
Nearly 70 percent of students, 80 percent of staff and more than 70 percent of the community responded yes.
Those responses have continued since the decision has been made, Smith said. The remaining questions are about the calendar and how days will be organized.
The goal is to have the 2020-21 calendar approved by December to give time for the community to prepare, she said.