Brother and sister Paul and Angelica Gallegos have spent a lot more time together this past school year. That’s because their school district, 27J outside Denver, became the first district in a major metropolitan area to switch to a four-day school week.
And at first, it was a scary idea for mom Crystal.
“I was a little freaked out,” Gallegos said.
She had to convince her employer to let her work from home, since her kids would now be there every Monday. So far, she says the new school schedule hasn’t been that hard to get used to.
“I like it, but that’s because I get to spend time with my kids,” she said.
Every Monday they’ve come to a local state park where the kids volunteer.
“We feed the animals we feed the birds,” said 12 year old Angelica. “On certain days we take kids on trail walks.”
But asked if they prefer the new shorter weeks in class?
“[I’d] go back to the old way,” says 9-year-old Paul. “I’d rather have school Mondays then stay an extra hour.”
To make their weeks shorter, the four classroom days have to be longer. And then there’s homework.
“This year, we did almost two hours of homework a night ,” said mom Crystal. “And then she plays softball, so that on top of practice, on top of—it was just a lot for her this year.”
The Roberts family just down the block has mixed feelings. Kendra, 12, who uses the extra day to hangout with friends, grins from ear to ear when asked if she likes it.
“Yea,” she says smiling.
Mom Alecia Roberts sees pros and cons.
“We have more family time on the weekends because then we can focus on other things during Mondays,” Roberts said. “But I still work on Mondays.”
District superintendent Chris Fiedler says the biggest reason for the change was to attract more qualified teacher applicants. And so far, he says, its worked.
“[For] elementary teaching positions a good pool [of applicants] would have been 40-50, and we were seeing pools of over 100,” Fiedler said.
He says they’re also more experienced applicants. The district will soon head into their second year of a three-year trial, but it could be here to stay.
“It’s really been a useful tool,” Fiedler said.
The district has offered daycare for $30 every Monday.