For anyone who does not live in the Dallas area, the local school district of Lancaster, TX (Tornado free since '93!) has proposed a new budget including a 4-day school week. The proposal has since been turned down.
At first, I wondered what that superintendent was smoking. (Possibly cheese?) But then, when I found out that it was in an effort to save the district money, I thought that this was a novel plan that just wasn't being taken far enough.
The proposal was to hold classes Monday through Thursday and give everyone Fridays off. Elementary students would be at school from 7:45 until 4:25. High schoolers would go from 8:30 until 5:30. Long hours, you say? Or, like me, are you saying not long enough!
Here's my proposal. How about a ONE-day school week. We start at noon on Monday and go straight through until noon on Tuesday. Twenty-four pure, continuous, unadulterated hours of academic rigor. AND THEN SIX DAYS OFF!!!
Just think about how much learning you could pack into that day! And think of the savings for the school district!
- You'd only have to pay for buses twice a week instead of ten times a week!
- You'd only have to provide one lunch, one dinner, and one breakfast per week (though I recommend adding a small midnight snack to the cafeteria menu)!
- Air-conditioning costs could be cut, electricity bills could be slashed, water bills could be mutilated and spindled!
Listen, I used to be an engineer, and I took some electronics classes in college. So I know a little bit about electricity usage. And the fact is, every time you flip a light switch ON, you use more electricity than a light that has been on for a solid hour. By flipping all of a campus' light on every morning and off every evening, school districts are blowing through hundreds of thousands of dollars! With a one-day school week, those light switches would only be flipped on once per week. Think of the savings!!
On a similar note, Tuesday afternoon through Monday morning would hardly see any water usage in the buildings at all. There would be no children clamoring at the water fountain or repeatedly flushing the toilets -- quite literally flushing millions of dollars right down the drain.
Administrators could already be thinking of ways to spend all of that saved money. Giving it under the table to contractors that they are related to... Spending it on brand new acronyms for the next round of standardized tests... Or just plain across-the-board raises for the Board of Trustees.
And think of the joy on every student's face when they recover on Wednesday evening and realize they still have more than four days to go before reporting back to school!
I know that children might have a hard time staying awake for 24 straight hours. Heck, most of the kids I teach have trouble staying awake for 5 straight hours! But things can be done to motivate and invigorate throughout the day.
For instance, every grade level would get a half-hour recess between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m. A new generation will experience the pleasures of Ghosts in the Graveyard and stargazing.
In addition, every school will use a new transition sound between classes. The familiar beeping of the clock from Fox's 24 will now accompany every class change. The kids will feel like mini-Jack Bauer's!!
So let's review: Time saved, check. Money saved, check. Academic improvement -- I'm just gonna go ahead and say research has proven it. It's a win-win situation, folks!! Let's bring it before the board!