With Houston ISD facing a budget shortfall and state lawmakers appearing unwilling to increase funding, could a four-day school week be the answer?
A suburban Denver district this month became the largest to join more than half of Colorado's districts that already have adopted a shortened week, citing $1 million in savings each year.
Saving millions in operating costs is tempting, but Houston Federation of Teachers President Zeph Capo says a four-day school week puts added pressure on working families to find day care.
“Single moms who are having to work to just put a roof over their heads and feed their kids, they would now have this additional burden of what they're going to do with their kids this extra day,” he says.
“We had a significant amount of parents concerned when the school district closed for the World Series celebration, imagine if that was happing every week, it would really hurt a lot of working families.”
Olfen ISD, a tiny district outside San Angelo, transitioned to a four-day school week in 2016. Capo says it may work in smaller rural districts, but Houston boasts a much more diverse and somewhat demanding economy for families.
Texas State Board of Education Member David Bradley doesn't see a benefit for students with a shortened school week.
“Just by adding 10 or 15 minutes to instructional time the other four days of the week really doesn't make up for a full day's worth of instruction,” he says.
He also thinks any savings would be offset by an unwillingness to negotiate contracts.
“Teachers traditionally have five days worth of instruction, so if you want to go to four days are the unions going to accept a 20 percent pay cut, absolutely not,” he says.
Messages seeking comment from several large suburban districts around Houston were not returned.