Four-Day School Week Good or Bad?

This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," July 9, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

E.D. HILL, HOST: First we heard about companies moving to a four-day work week for the employees. Now schools are doing the same thing. A Minnesota school district giving kids Mondays off, but it's extending the regular days to make up for it. Officials say it could save the district about $100,000 a year, but could that be an added burden to the parents? With me now is Greg Schmidt, the superintendent for public schools for MacCray School District in Minnesota. Thanks for being with us.


Video: Watch E.D. Hill's interview

HILL: Man, my kids would be all into that. Four days. They would be all into that. You are making it up for that in the regular four day school will, because there will be longer school days, 8:00 to 4:00 or something?

SCHMIDT: That's right, from 8:00 to 4:04 each day, so it will be 65 minutes longer.

HILL: You had discussions with this about the community and one of the concerns is that for working parents, this now leaves a day, Monday, when they don't have coverage for their kids. You know, they don't have — if they're using the meal programs there, they don't have breakfast and lunch, they don't have somebody really watching their kids. I'm not saying school is a baby-sitting service but you know what, when they're there, you know your kids are safe.

SCHMIDT: That's true. Parents do have concerns about what they're going to do with their kids on that day. And they have made other arrangements in most cases to deal with that.

HILL: How much do you think it's going to save and what will you be able to do with that money that you anticipate saving?

SCHMIDT: Well, we anticipate we will be able to save between $85,000 and $100,000 next year and what we're going to do with the money is we're going to not have to cut another position in the district. So we will be able to offer more electives at the high school level than we would if we didn't go to the four-day school week.

HILL: Have there been discussions about what to do on Mondays? Because you know, I know in one of my kid's school districts after school hours will have signups for various things that they want to teach whether it's chess or cooking or something like that. Is there the possibility of perhaps using school facilities to offer something like that?

SCHMIDT: Well, I think that's certainly possible. We're looking at some opportunities with the local YMCA and with our local community ed program looking at offering things for kids on Mondays, maybe not necessarily in the school but possibly using the school, but certainly in other community buildings in the community.

HILL: Greg Schmidt, thank you very much. A lot of companies have done it and now your school district is doing it. Appreciate your time.

SCHMIDT: Thank you, E.D.

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