Independence schools moving to 4-day week

Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 9:12 PM CST
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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (KCTV) — The Independence School District just became the largest one in the state, by far, to move to a 4-day school week.

This comes after the board voted 6-1 Tuesday night to pass a measure proposed by the superintendent.

The intention is to make the district a more attractive place to work for teachers, support staff and bus drivers. There has been a staffing challenge on those fronts nationwide. One teacher of 20 years said she’s excited for the new schedule to kick in.

“Because I feel like I’m going to be able to capture more time for me, for my family,” said teacher Adrienne Topel. “It just helps put things into perspective and gets me into a better space to come back into the classroom.”

“I came from the corporate world where I lobbied for myself to have a four-day workweek,” described Angy Hill, also a teacher in the district. “I worked harder on those four days to make sure that that fifth day that I had was going to be of quality for me.”

The plan makes Monday the day off. They will tack 35 minutes onto the school day for the rest of the week.

Child care, for some parents, is an obvious concern. That is why the district is providing options for enrichment learning on Mondays. However, bus transportation is not included for most kids those days.

One parent who addressed the school board Tuesday night said that’s a problem.

“I think they have no idea how many students will be engaging in those fifth-day activities and how many students will not, and will not have transportation and will be sitting at home without resources,” said Brandi Pruente, who has three children in the district and herself used to teach there.

In Missouri, 141 much smaller districts are already on 4-day weeks.

The new schedule for ISD doesn’t go into effect until the next school year (the 2023-2024 school year).

Hiring for that starts in January. Before the measure passed, Superintendent Dr. Dale Herl said that the district saw a significant uptick in applications when he was just floating the idea to be researched.

The district has created a Four Day Instructional Week Information Center online for updates during the transition.