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Schools go 4, can't return to 5 days they had before

TULSA   Once a district goes to a four-day school week in Oklahoma, it's tough to go back.

People seem to like it too much.

About one-fifth of all 513 Oklahoma public school districts  91  have a four-day school week, something that has become synonymous with education in Oklahoma. Many districts have been forced by state funding cuts to find a way to trim expenses without trimming jobs, said about a dozen superintendents who responded to a Tulsa World survey.

Many of those same superintendents said the four-day week has become a recruitment tool to retain and attract talented teachers. They say they've saved on utility bills and transportation costs, and the longer class times that come with a four-day week have allowed teachers to get deeper into their curriculum. Others say the impact on academic performance is unclear, crediting the change in state testing for obscuring the true impact on students.

But most agree that it would be awfully unpopular to go back.

"After finding the high level of preference for the 4-day week, I believe returning to a standard 5-day week would make it more difficult to retain and recruit teachers and support staff," Bob Gragg, the interim superintendent at White Rock School, said in an email.

Not everyone is in love with the four-day week, however. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has advocated for five-day weeks and said the prevalence of four-day school has made it difficult to recruit businesses to Oklahoma. The Oklahoma State Department of Education said in early 2017 that it is unclear how much money districts actually save on a four-day week, and Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has said four-day districts are spreading like a "contagion."

The Lawton Constitution

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