BOISE, Idaho – New Plymouth is the latest Idaho district to transition to a four-day school week. The district hopes to address recruitment challenges by giving teachers three days off each week.
“Our main goal as a school district was to attract high quality teachers to our school district. Attract and keep them here,” said David Sotutu, superintendent of the New Plymouth School District.
Sotutu says it is already in the works. He has filled five teaching positions since the switch. According to Sotutu, the change was necessary to remain competitive with other districts already offering a four-day week.
“In the past, we had teachers we were going to offer positions to, and when they found out, we weren’t on the four-day week, they moved to other districts,” Sotutu said.
But shorter work weeks also mean longer days. New Plymouth High School students are now in class until 4 p.m., an extra hour added.
Some students are in favor of change. “I can take longer to complete annuities and any tasks. I have some free time to go skiing and do any fun sport I like,” said Larkin Jenkins, a student at New Plymouth High School.
But other students, like Lindsay Brownell, find it difficult to balance classwork and extracurricular school activities with longer days and shorter weeks. Brownell talked with his fellow classmates about their 4-day week for the school paper and received mixed responses.
“Mainly everyone who talks badly about it, or has a negative opinion about it, are athletes or people who have jobs or work with animals outside of school. Because when When we get home, it’s dark outside,” Brownell said.
School leaders in New Plymouth say, according to their research, shorter school weeks do not affect academic performance.
“There is no difference between my 4-day-olds and my 5-day-olds and what they know,” said Sam Crockett, a teacher at New Plymouth High School.
But the school district said they are monitoring student performance, and if they see a decline, they will consider going back to the 5-day week.
There are currently a total of 81 school districts and charter schools in Idaho that have adopted the 4-day school week.