San Antonio school district could be first to adopt four-day schedule

Harlandale ISD’s board is looking at a shorter school week for its students and staff to attract and retain teachers, and it could be the first school district in San Antonio to make the change if approved. The school district says it sent out surveys to parents and staff to provide input on proposed four-day school weeks, according to a news release. 

The district first asked staff for input in December 2022 on two potential four-day calendars after it observed what it calls “positive impact” on other Texas school districts. Harlandale ISD cites a 2022 Texas Teacher Poll by the Charles Butt Foundation, saying mental health and not enough time for planning is the reason teachers are leaving the profession. 

That poll says 85% of teachers the Charles Butt Foundation surveyed said they would stay for additional planning time and more district-wide time off for students and teachers. 

Harlandale ISD has not made any decision on either of the calendars and didn’t provide a timeline on when the district will vote on a four-day school week. If approved, the calendar will take effect next school year. 

“We are in the process of gathering all research and input necessary to make an informed decision about the potential implementation of a four-day school week,” said Superintendent George Soto in the news release. “It is no secret that many teachers are leaving the profession, so we also want to be proactive when it comes to retaining and recruiting teachers for our District.”

Some rural Texas school districts like Mineral Wells have already switched to a four-day school week to improve teacher retention, the Texas Tribune reported in July 2022. The Texas Education Agency says schools have to be open for a minimum of 75,600 minutes per school year. This allows districts to be open for four days, even if that means extending the hours students and teachers are in school per day. 

In the same Tribune report, experts also questioned the impact to low-income families who could lose a free meal with an additional day off. Brian Woods, superintendent for Northside ISD, told the Tribune that he has concerns over longer days and whether parents could find child care for that day. 

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