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Is a 4-day school week a good way to cut costs?

Categories: Canada, Community

The public school board in Fort McMurray, Alta., is expected to decide Tuesday whether it will move to a four-day school week as a cost-cutting measure. 

 A four-day school week would cut down on costs like bussing. Would it be worth it? (Toby Talbot/AP)
Dennis Parsons, superintendent of the board says the change could save up to $1 million a year. Fort McMurray Public School Board is facing a deficit of $4.4 million. 

The change would follow the city's Catholic school board, which has been on a four-day week for the past year and a half. It also runs daycares that operate between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. to accommodate parents' shift work in the oilsands industry. 

Parsons said the four-day school week could be achieved by rescheduling professional development days and changing class schedules to make each school day longer by about 11 minutes. 

However, Parsons says that reaction from parents has already been negative. He told the Canadian Press that parents have said the change would create child-care problems for them and that they worry about children being out of school three days out of seven. 
A similar plan was rejected two years ago. 

Alberta's NDP education critic says the proposal shows that even in prosperous Fort McMurray, schools are underfunded. 

"There's lots of school boards that are in a precarious position across the province that I hope will not look at going to a four-day school week," said MP David Eggen. 

Eggen said the Progressive Conservative government has been neglecting public education. "This proposal would offload the cost of keeping schools open from the provincial government onto parents who would have to pay for extra child care," said Eggen in a news release. 

Eggen also said bus drivers and teaching aides could see their hours cut under the proposal. 
Alberta Education Minister Jeff Johnson said what the board is proposing is fine as long as students still receive the required number of instructional hours.

"We have school boards across the province that run on all sorts of different calendars, and as long as the hours of instruction for kids are met, we're quite comfortable with what works for a community," Kim Capstick, spokeswoman for Johnson, told the Canadian Press.

Do you think a four-day school week is a good way to cut costs? Or would the inconvenience outweigh any benefits of the plan? Let us know what you think. 

(This survey is not scientific. Results are based on readers' responses.)

Tags: Alberta, Canada, Community, Education, Politics, POV

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