Last school year a group of Alexander Public School District students proposed to the school board the idea of going to a four day school week.
They felt it would help increase student attendance and grades, and so far it looks like it is working.
Sixth grade student Paige Delany said she wasn’t a big fan of a five day school week, and she is glad the district made the switch to four days.
“It was boring . . . kinda long for me. I didn’t get to work with my animals(horses), and I was away from my family a lot”.
First grade teacher Erica Turquist said the five day school week was hard on teachers too.
“Students chronically missing different days. . . a couple of students missing a day here or there”.
Turquist attributed the low attendance to the fact that Alexander is located in a rural area near the energy and ag sector of McKenzie County which is in the heart of the Bakken.
Parents frequently work long hours during the week, and when they have time they like to spend some extra time with kids to take a vacation or catch on medical and dental appointments.
Since Alexander went to four days, she said she has seen a big difference.
“Now I have much better attendance and student come refreshed on Mondays,” said Turnquist.
The school superintendent Leslie McDonald said attendance has gone from around 75 percent on average to about 90 percent.
“I get more time to think about stuff on Friday, and Im ready to come back to school on Sunday, cause I miss my friends,” said Delaney,
Delany also said she has even seen an improvement in her grades.
“Yeah I’m getting straight A’s, and it is pretty good for me. I like this year”.
With the four day school week, school starts 30 minutes earlier and gets out five minutes later Monday through Thursday, and Fridays are dedicated to tutoring and for teachers to prepare their lessons.
“Yes I have more time on Fridays to do my planning. I can visit with other teachers. We can plan together,” said Turnquist.
Superintendent McDonald also added the possibility of students being able to have a three day weekend is also a great motivational tool for kids to do their homework.
“If you don’t want to do your homework Monday through Thursday then we will see you Friday morning. . . which is a motivation for older kids”.
Alexander school is pre K through 12th grade, and all of the students participate in the four day school week – The school has about 270 students.
The school also offers a enrichment program on Fridays from 9am to 3pm, called the High Five League.
McDonald said the program is for working parents whose children are in need of adult supervision while they are at work.
The superintendent said the program is open to all students at the school, and they provide lunch and busing to students who wish to attend.
McDonald said about 20 students on average participate in the High Five League.