BOISE, Idaho — New Plymouth is the latest Idaho District to transition to a four-day school week. The district hopes to address hiring challenges by giving teachers a three-day weekend every week.
“Our main goal as a school district was to attract high-quality teachers to our school district. Attract and keep them here,” said David Sotutu, Superintendent of New Plymouth School District.
Sotutu says it's already working. He's filled five teaching positions since the switch. According to Sotutu, the change was necessary to stay competitive with other districts already offering four-day weeks.
“In the past, we had teachers we were going to offer positions to, and when they found out, we weren't on four-day weeks, they went to other districts,” said Sotutu.
But shorter work weeks also mean longer days. New Plymouth High School students are now in class till 4 P.M., adding an extra hour.
Some students are in favor of the change. “I can spend more time completing the yearbook and any assignments. I also have some free time to go skiing and do any of the fun sports I like to do,” said Larkin Jenkins, a New Plymouth High School student.
But other students, like Lindsey Brownell, find it difficult to balance classwork and extracurricular school activities with longer days and shorter weeks. Brownell spoke with fellow classmates for the school paper about their 4-day weeks and got mixed responses.
“Mainly everyone who spoke badly about it, or had negative opinions about it, are athletes or people who have jobs or work with animals outside school. Because when we get home, it's dark outside,” said Brownell.
School leaders in New Plymouth say, according to their research, shorter school weeks don't impact educational performance.
“There is no difference between my 4-day kids and my 5-day kids and what they know,” said Sam Crockett, a teacher at New Plymouth high school.
But the school district said they are monitoring student performance, and if they do see a dip, they would consider going back to 5-day weeks.
Idaho currently has 81 total school districts and charter schools that have adopted the 4-day school week.