Four-day school weeks becoming more popular in the Midwest

BISMARCK, N.D. - Four-day school week, three-day weekend. While only a small a number of North Dakota schools have made the schedule switch, more are following suit.

The school districts interested in switching to a four-day school week have been smaller, with populations as little as 76.

The idea is much more popular in South Dakota, with 20 percent of the state participating in a shorter school week.

Four North Dakota School Districts are on a four day schedule.

This is Dunseith's third year and the change is saving the district money. Dunseith's superintendent says parents were hesitant at first.

“Well, our teachers love it. I know at first, the parents were a little weary; they didn't know what to do with daycare on that Friday,” said Dunseith Superintendent David Sjol.

Every other Friday, teachers have professional development in the morning and tutoring in the afternoon.

“If they get their work done and they're passing their classes, they won't be required to come to tutoring on Friday. So, it gives them a long weekend,” said Sjol.

Beginning next fall, Alexander schools will make the switch, using Fridays for one-on-one tutoring and education enrichment.

“It's an attraction to new teachers and to have that remediation time with kids to really catch them up. Kids don't like school if they can’t read or do the math at their level,” said Alexander Superintendent Leslie Bieber.

Thirty-four of the 170 school districts in South Dakota only attend school four days a week. Ten years ago only 15 had switched.

North Dakota's State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler says we may be seeing more smaller districts interested in the switch.

“Our smaller school districts are going to be the ones that are going to lead on this but I'm not surprised that it is mostly our smaller school districts that are looking into this. But I do think that it would benefit some of our larger school districts. And I wouldn't be surprised if some of our smaller school districts decided that maybe one or two of their buildings would go to a four day school week and let some of our families opt into that,” said Baesler.

Baesler says interested districts must show that the change will benefit instruction, not just save money.

Thirty-eight out of the 56 counties in Montana are participating in the four day school week.