Mineral Wells ISD launches four-day school week

“It’s really imperative for school districts to think outside the box,” said Superintendent John Kuhn of the WFAA.

MINERAL WELLS, Texas — As the feisty border guard helped children at Mineral Well ISD’s Houston Elementary School on the street, they wished the students a happy weekend.

Weekends at Mineral Wells ISD schools are starting early after the district instituted a four-day school week for the new school year.

Students and teachers have school from Monday to Thursday and their three-day weekend starts on Friday.

A majority of parents of Houston Elementary students told WFAA that they support the move to a shorter school week.

Sheena Dow was among those celebrating.

“I love it,” said Dow. “I love every moment I have with my kids. An extra day with them makes me happy. Everyone needs more balance.”

Another parent, Gabriela Gonzalez, told the WFAA she had to change her work schedule to accommodate the new change.

“It’s something new, it’s different,” Gonzalez said.

Mineral Wells ISD Superintendent John Kuhn said over the past year several teachers in his district have left and chosen to teach at neighboring schools where districts offered a four-day week.

The loss of teachers caused Kuhn and school leaders to reconsider how they would retain teachers, and it would take more than offering more salary.

“We found this [a four-day week] was a more popular option than we thought,” said Kuhn.

Of the district’s teachers, 87 percent supported a four-day week, Kuhn said.

“It’s really imperative for school districts to think outside the box,” Kuhn said.

He did, and the four-day school week became a reality.

His district’s decision to switch comes as schools across North Texas and beyond are struggling to fill vacancies.

This school year, Mineral Wells ISD welcomes students again with zero teaching positions. It’s unclear whether the four-day week can be directly attributed to the appeal of teachers, Kuhn said.

“I think it’s worth it,” said Kuhn. “My employees are really enthusiastic.”

He hopes the extra day off will help teachers manage their workload. On Fridays, the district also offers further training opportunities for teachers.

To make up for lost school days, the county started the school year earlier and added a week to the year. In addition, the school days are now around 30 minutes longer than before.

After some parents expressed concerns about finding childcare when school is closed on Fridays, Kuhn and his district found a possible solution.

The district offers an optional make-up day or make-up day on Fridays for students in fourth grade and under.

The district provides meals for students at the Friday Cleanup. Thanks to the Backpack Buddy program, all students go home with meals for the three-day weekend.

Parents who cannot find childcare on Fridays have the opportunity to register their children for school on Fridays, Kuhn said.

“Ultimately, the goal in everything we do is to do what’s best for children,” said Kuhn.

Kuhn said if the county’s STAAR test scores improve at the end of the school year, the four-day workweek will stay in place forever.

https://www.kvue.com/article/news/local/mineral-wells-isd-launches-four-day-school-week-to-retain-teachers/287-4f7e700c-7761-4f00-8638-a1dda699ae1e Mineral Wells ISD launches four-day school week

Laura Coffey

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