SPRINGLAKE, Texas – As the school year quickly approaches, some rural school districts in West Texas and across the state are adjusting to a four-day school week.

For Springlake-Earth ISD, this coming school year is what they’re calling the “pilot year.” They voted on the decision to implement the new schedule last spring. Superintendent of the district, Denver Crum, said they’re going to look at how it impacts the students and teachers, but believes it will be a positive change.

Crum said Lockney ISD and Motley County ISD were instrumental in helping them make the transition and allowed them to study what they had done.

So, why the change?

“It certainly added to the appeal of coming to our school district. And we believe it will have a positive impact in the future in recruiting quality teachers,” Crum explained.

Lockney ISD will go into August with one year of the four-day school weeks under their belt. Superintendent Jim Baum said while they did run into a few hiccups, it was an effective new schedule which is why they are doing it again.

Baum said, “It just puts integrity into what we’re already asking our teachers to do. And it gives them time to do it better.”

He added that the four-day week doesn’t reduce the amount of work teachers do, but gives them more time to prepare for the week ahead. All while still having time to enjoy their weekend with their families. Their hope is to attract and retain teachers to help with any staffing shortages.

“You cannot just walk into a classroom and teach if you don’t have the time to prepare for it,” he said.

Of course, with this decision also came some concerns.

“What would happen to our kiddos on that day out of school that don’t have anywhere to go?

So, they initiated what called Fifth Day Camp, where students were allowed to come to school with instructional aides to put them through a non-tested curriculum. At first, he said students utilized the opportunity, but by the end of the school year, no one was showing up.

Crum said there were some concerns regarding students not receiving meals at home. However, he said they will assess any issues or problems they may run into.

The minimum requirement for instructional minutes is 75,600 minutes. Both districts will go Tuesday through Friday; Springlake-Earth ISD will add 5 minutes at the beginning of the day and 15 minutes at the end of the day. Lockney ISD added 45 minutes to each day. Both exceeding the minimum requirement.

These school district officials believe that while it’s mostly smaller school districts that have taken the four-day school week into effect, they anticipate it will become more popular across the state, even reaching bigger 5-A school districts.