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Parents, superintendent weigh in on future of Independence School District's 4-day week

Missouri SB 727 allows schools to vote on 4-day week
Superintendent Dr. Dale Herl addresses the four day school week
Posted at 5:19 PM, May 08, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed a number of education bills into law Tuesday, including Senate Bill 727, which allows schools to go to a four-day school week following a vote.

The Independence School District (ISD) is wrapping up its first school year of a four-day week, but not everyone is thrilled with the schedule.

Angie Judy, who sends her son to Bryant Elementary, was recently at the school volunteering for Teacher Appreciation Day.

"I like doing it for all the kids. That way, they all have an opportunity to experience what a great community we have," Judy said.

Angie Judy, ISD parent

But Judy raised some worries about the four-day structure, claiming not all students in the district are having the same positive experiences.

She said some at-risk populations and families didn't anticipate the challenges posed by the change, like parents struggling to balance work and childcare responsibilities on Mondays.

"We’ve had friends leave the area because they’re like, 'Well, if I'm going to have to pay for three kids on a Monday for childcare, might as well send them to private school,'" Judy said.

Despite these challenges, ISD observed benefits from the four-day week, particularly in teacher recruitment.

Superintendent Dr. Dale Herl said the district saw an over 300% increase in teacher applications this year, attributing it to the district's unique scheduling approach.

Dr. Dale Herl, ISD Superintendent

"We are competing so hard for the very best talent, and this really does give us an advantage," Herl said.

Looking ahead, the fate of the four-day school week will be decided by a district-wide vote before the 2026-27 school year. Until then, it will remain in place.

"If we could figure out a way to make sure those kids have transportation, food, somewhere to be that doesn’t cost our family, then let’s do it," Judy said.

But before she votes yes, Judy said she must be sure this schedule will benefit everyone, not just families like hers.