Aug 28, 2012 12:36 PM by Jen Hollenbach (jen@krtv.com)

Vaughn embarks on 4-day school week

More Montana schools are opting to switch to 4-day school week; the number of districts that have made the switch now stands at 53.

Among the schools that no longer have 5-day weeks: Vaughn.

They made the change by adding 10 minutes to each class period and dropping Friday classes.

Dean Jardee, the Vaughn principal, explained, "I wasn't really excited about it at first because I thought with the younger kids and the longer days...that might not be the best thing for them."

So Jardee started checking in at other area schools who have already made the switch; he recalled, "We talked to young kids, old kids, parents, teachers, school board members, administrators. And it was all positive."

Denise Juneau, the Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction, noted, "Schools that are currently engaged in 4-day school weeks have been able to keep their academic scores high, they report to us that more students are coming to school for all those 4 days, because they know they have a day off."

School districts were given more flexibility in how their school system operates after legislation changed the law to require 1,080 hours of time in the classroom, rather than mandating 180 days of class.

Juneau said, "We have 53 schools that have gone with 4-day school weeks, some schools are changing to have a late start, some offer early starts and early outs - really depends on meeting the needs of your community."

And in Vaughn, a big factor in the switch was nearby Simms High School making the change themselves.

Jardee explained, "We decided as a board that as long as we found no reason that it would harm our students' learning that if our high school district went to a 4-day week, we were going to follow suit."

The 4-day school week was approved by the school board on a 3-year trial run; at the end of the trial, board members will decide if it is the right decision for the school on a permanent basis.

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