CLARA CITY, Minn. – The MACCRAY school district in west-central Minnesota is poised to go to a four-day school week next year to save money.
Superintendent Greg Schmidt said Tuesday the move will save about $65,000 from the district's $7 million budget, mostly in transportation costs.
He said that if the state Education Department approves the move, MACCRAY will be the first district in the state to reduce its week to four days.
Schmidt said the plan would cut 23 days out of the year by eliminating school on the Mondays. The school day would expand by an hour Tuesday through Friday.
The district will also save money by turning down the heat in its buildings for another day a week, which conserves fuel, he said.
That also means that people who want to meet or have events in the school on Mondays will have to dress warm because the thermostat will be set at 60 degrees.
"We are not going to turn up the heat just because we have a practice," Schmidt said. That applies to basketball games in the winter, too.
The School Board unanimously approved the plan on Monday, but Schmidt said the district still needs to cut another $200,000 by next year.
"We can only give it a try and see how it goes," said board chairman Randy Janssen on Monday night, citing a 55-name petition the board received in favor of the four-day week.
Rising fuel prices have spiked busing costs for many rural districts. For example, Schmidt said MACCRAY has about 700 students spread over 350 square miles.
The district was $52,000 over budget for fuel through March, and prices have kept rising then. "We just don't get enough money for transportation," Schmidt said.
The district includes the towns of Maynard, Clara City and Raymond.