The first week of December Athens ISD gathered to discuss a change that would completely transform the instructional calendar. When Superintendent Blake Stiles announced the possibility of a four-day instructional week, the audience broke into applause.

The new calendar is currently only a proposal. It must be approved by the elected members of the Athens Board of Trustees. The district is gathering feedback from teachers, administrators, parents and students before submitting it to the board, but it could become a reality in the very near future.

Changes If Approved

The current proposal would start this coming school year, the 2019-2020 year and go from August 5 through May 28. Classes would meet Monday through Thursday, and every day would be 50 minutes longer than it currently is. Elementary students would attend from 7:45-3:55. Middle and high school classes would run from 8 a.m. to 4:25 p.m.

Benefits of a 4-Day School Week

Deputy Superintendent Sims focused on these four primary benefits of a four-day school week:

Compressed weeks attract highly qualified teachers. Teachers are in short supply, especially at smaller school districts with limited funds. Teaching is stressful, and day after day it wears on the men and women called upon to do so much.

A four-day week improves morale. Top staff would be more likely to apply to the Athens Independent School District and current teachers would be motivated to stay.

Research indicates improved student learning. Better teachers improve student academic performance. When students have longer weekends, they also have more time to relax or participate in volunteer or social activities. Athletes have an extra day to attend out-of-town competitions and miss less class. High school students who work have an extra day free.

Behavior issues decrease and graduation rates increase. Some research indicates a four-day instructional week causes fewer behavior-related referrals. Students are more rested and more focused. They're also not in the classroom as many days, so the students who struggle with behavior spend fewer days needing to sit still and listen. Less disruption means more learning.

Teachers have more time to prepare. Right now educators work more than just Monday through Friday. Almost all teachers will tell you they spend a chunk of their weekend getting ready for the week ahead. A four-day school week would provide additional time for professional development and classroom preparation.

We Want to Know Your Thoughts

Even if your child doesn't attend Athens ISD, we're curious what East Texans think about the possibility. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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