State lawmakers looking to make 5-day school week mandatory

State lawmakers looking to make 5-day school week mandatory

INOLA, Okla. (KTUL) -- State lawmakers are looking to propose a bill again that would make five-day school weeks mandatory in Oklahoma.

Rodney Ferguson has been teaching for 25 years with seven of those in Inola.

“I spent probably 22 years doing the five-day week,” he said.

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That changed three years ago when Inola made the switch to a four-day week.

“I’ve noticed a big difference as far as the kids,” he said. “There’s not as much mental fatigue and that goes both ways. The teachers are not as mentally fatigued.”

More importantly, he said attendance has improved, disciplinary issues have gone down, and overall students like eighth grader Lindey Moss are happier.

“A big pro is I am able to accomplish my homework, like work in class,” she said. “I’m able to get it done in school and not have to take homework home.”

State lawmakers proposed a similar bill last year, but it failed.

Superintendent Kent Holbrook said he doesn’t think it will benefit the district.

“If it was really, really bad, this community would be really upset saying, 'We’ve got to fix it now,'” said Holbrook.

He said they’ve saved anywhere between $150,000 to $170,000 a year since making the switch.

“Last year was the first year we didn’t take any cuts, and we ended the year a little bit better than breaking even,” he said.

He said adding a day back would actually take away that money from students and their education.

“What I’ll have to use that $150,000 for is to add bus drivers back, add bus fuel back; we pay more in utilities. We pay more for janitorial supplies, all of those things that are support to the classroom but not one teacher,” said Holbrook.

Seeing mostly positive results from a four-day week, the district is begging for lawmakers to leave it alone.

“I feel like they are trying to exercise control where we really don’t need control,” said Ferguson. “Bottom line, when you are talking about an issue like this, it’s really about the kids.”

They are asking lawmakers to allow communities to make their own decisions.

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