“I have great concern,” Controversy over schools going to four day weeks

OKLAHOMA CITY - Nearly 100 school districts are on four-day weeks. It`s a move State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister doesn't support. But local districts say they've seen the savings on fuel, staff and utilities.

"I've saved almost a teacher probably in diesel already,” said Tony O`Brien, Newcastle Superintendent.

Newcastle is one of the districts to end the school week on Thursdays.

“We thought we could save at least 2% conservatively and I think we're doing better than that by some of my preliminary numbers,” said O’Brien.

Hofmeister said those numbers just aren`t adding up.

“We think that the cost is too high to students and that any kind of savings at the district level is just marginal,” she said.

The State Department of Education looked at the spending of 16 districts that went to four days a week.

They found that, on average, school districts spent about $4,500 more on utilities, at least $2,700 less on food, nearly $2,000 less on transportation, and about $8,500 more on support staff.

“I have great concern for our special education students who are not receiving services five days a week,” said Hofmeister.

Representative Harold Wright introduced a bill that would require school districts considering a four-day school week take a closer look at the financial outlook of a shorter school week.

“They need to really take a good look at their plan and analyze I think, whether or not they're saving money, and submit that plan to the state department,” Wright said.

However, all sides agree, what`s really needed to solve this equation is adequate education funding.

The bill passed the house and now heads to the senate for a vote.

Just last year the state had about 50 districts with shortened weeks and it nearly doubled so far this year.