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Colorado School District Goes to Four-day Week
March 19, 2012

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In order to save money, a school district in Colorado is cutting its school week to four days. The Garfield School District will look to make up a projected budget deficit of $2.2 million by, among other things, giving students and teachers another day off each week, starting with the 2012-2013 school year, which for the district begins in August.

Colorado state officials say that the district would be the 80th to make such a decision, so it's not a novel idea. However, only one of those other 79 district has more than 1,000 students. Garfield's decision will nearly 5,000 students and their families and teachers.

School district officials say that they have been considering the idea for a few years and that voters' recent rejection of a mill levy increase was the stimulus needed to go ahead.

Although many observers are assuming that the school will create three-day weekends, the district has yet to announce on which day of the week the schools will close or how many minutes will be added to the remaining four days to make up the time.

The four-day week is a growing trend in the U.S. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, 120 school district in 21 states have schools operating on four-day weeks. In addition to Colorado, those states are Arizona, California, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Some states have laws allowing four-day school weeks but no schools taking part. In Florida, the large Pasco County is debating a similar proposal, looking at ways to trim a budget that anticipates a $50 million shortfall.

The first four-day week took place in a school in South Dakota in the 1930s. Many other schools went to four-day weeks in the 1970s, in response to the energy crisis during that decade.

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