MEDORA — Saying they wanted to make the education and quality of life better for the kids, the Billings County Schools decided the 2019-20 school year would be reduced from five to four days. So how’s it going for the nearly 100 students that will walk the hallways of the district each school day?
“I like it because it’s just fun. You have to do more work in the day but it helps you so you can have more fun on the weekends,” said third-grader, Jakob Honeyman.
“The morale is really great. I feel like they’re energized when they get here, they know they just have the four days, they come prepared to work and they know it’s work hard every day to get our stuff done. And then we’re gonna have Friday off,” said District Principal Shae Peplinski.
Students in this sparsely populated county sometimes have to travel great distances to get to school, meaning long rides on the bus. Now, that’s less of an issue.
“By reducing the school week, it reduces the time some students are stuck on the bus by over 20 percent,” said Peplinski.
The district has been operating under the four day week since October.
But a shorter school week doesn’t mean less time spent in the classroom. Students make up the lost time by spending an extra 30 minutes in school each day.
Erika Honeyman is one of the teachers and said her students have adapted well to the new changes.
“They seem more prepared, ready to make it through the day, we don’t feel like we’re seeing that tiredness even at the end of one day,” said Erika.
Some students said that after having a four day week, they would never want to go back to a five day week.
“I feel like I have a little bit more energy and I can be a little bit more focused on my work knowing that there is a shorter then I get more time to relax,” said eighth-grader, Kaitlin Sitter.
With Friday’s open, it allows the district to offer what they call, “discovery days” that offer activities such as hunter safety or culinary arts, meaning the four day week in Billings County so far is passing with flying colors.
Billings County initially got the idea for the four day week after seeing the positive results of a four day week from several nearby districts in eastern Montana.