School district is exploring if four is better than five for students

For some teachers and students a five day school week can seem like a never ending voyage, and one school district is crunching the numbers to see if four is better than five.

Recently a group of teachers from the Billings County School District brought up the idea to the school board of implementing a four day school week. 

“The other schools we have talked to have said the moral for the students and the staff has increased,” said Marki Toso, DeMores Elementary teacher.

DeMores Elementary Student, Dawsyn Malkowski said an extra day off from school would allow him to help his families cattle operation.

“It gives us another day to do branding and shipping and stuff like that”. 

The Billings County School District said one of the reasons it is exploring a four day school week is because of the amount of travel the kids have to endure.”

Malkowski said some of his friends ride the school bus three hours a day, and it can be very “tiring” for them.

The district has two K- 8 elementary schools (DeMores Elementary in Medora and Prairie Elementary in Fairfield) with a little more than 80 students combined, but they are the closest schools in the area for kids in Billings County. 

The other options for the kids in Medora would be to go to Beach, Belfield, or South heart, and Danielle O’Brien, Billings County School District Assistant Principal, said it would be “Up to 15 more miles, but you are also adding additional stops which would also increase the time spent on the bus”. 

Shae Peplinski, Billings County School District Principal, said some of the faculty has to travel just as far as the students, and an extra day off could help the district retain teachers and staff. 

“There is not a whole lot of four day schools in North Dakota right now,and perhaps that would be a draw to teachers coming to our district”.

If a change is implemented thirty minutes would be added to each school day, and Fridays would be four hour days, dedicated to student tutoring three times a month, and fourth Friday one would be set aside for the professional development of teachers. 

“For us the lesson plans (more time to prepare) and picking up those kids that are behind would be the biggest benefit because we have that extra day, ” said Toso. 

To assist working families in need of childcare on Friday’s,  the district is exploring the idea of offering enrichment programs. 

“Maybe offering swimming lessons four Fridays in a month or Spanish classes. . . guitar lessons. . . soemthing the kids aren’t offered in school, ” said Peplinski.

The idea is still in the early stages with a lot of work still to be done,  but if a change is implemented it won’t be until next year.

Alexander Public School District in McKenzie County recently implemented a four day school week for it’s students this year.


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