A traditional five-day school week probably just became a thing of the past for most Missouri youngsters, thanks for budget cuts announced by Governor Mike Parson. Because of the COVID-19 crisis, Parson expects at least $500 million in state revenue shortfall. Missouri will be receiving federal stimulus money in the near future–some say as much as $3.5 billion–but that’s just an estimate. What’s more is that Parson isn’t sure when that money will arrive. In the interim he’s set up a working group to start making plans for how those federal stimulus funds will be spent.
Budget Cuts Soon to Hit K-12 Schools
Nearly $16 million will be withheld from the state’s school funding formula. Another $7.1 million will be stripped from student transportation funds. The grand total of cuts so far? Approximately $23.6 million for fiscal year 2020. Here’s a look at the restrictions that will impact Missouri’s youngsters:
- Foundation Formula Prior Year Recalculation: $15,865,787
- Pupil Transportation: $7,100,000
- K-3 Reading Assessment System: $166,141
- Missouri Scholars and Fine Arts Academies: $266,750
- Missouri Preschool Program Early Learning Quality Assurance Report: $200,000
The Five-Day School Week Exodus Has Already Begun
It takes money to operate a public school district. Just ask any building principal, superintendent, or board member. Districts depend on state aid to keep the doors open and run buses to get students to and from school each day. Funding has been inadequate for the past several years. That’s why so many have been opting to hold classes only four days per week. OneMissouri has previously reported that 61 public school districts currently operate as four-day schools in Missouri. We predict that number is going to climb rapidly because of the COVID-19 crisis.
There are 518 public school districts in Missouri. In the 2020-21 school year, 61 districts currently operate on a four-day schedule. Thirty-six more have already made the decision to make the switch next year, and several others are considering it as well but haven’t yet made a final decision. After hearing Governor Parson’s announcement, we believe many more local school boards of education will vote in favor of a four-day week, especially with the $7.1 million that will be restricted from pupil transportation. School districts just can’t cover the cost.
Long Term Effects of a Shortened School Week
So, how will attending school only four days each week affect Missouri’s youngsters over the long term? The answer is, “We just don’t know.” Because the trend is so new not enough quality research has been done yet. Researchers can’t yet tell us how students’ physical and emotional development will be affected. Sociologists can’t say for sure how a shortened week will impact juvenile delinquency. Most importantly, academics can’t share conclusive data about student achievement. The field is ripe for quality, peer-reviewed research.
Is It Time to Say Goodbye to the Five-Day School Week?
Will the COVID-19 crisis force even more public school districts to move to a four-day school week to save money? OneMissouri thinks it’s highly likely. Administrators can cut costs only so much. After tightening their belts to the last loop, we think principals, superintendents, and school board members will be forced to make some difficult decisions very soon. That may mean saying goodbye to the five-day school week.
OneMissouri is committed to research, education, advocacy, and policy development on behalf of all Missourians.
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