Livingston: Four-day school week proposal gaining attention

LIVINGSTON — As Livingston Parish school leaders continue to grapple with how to keep teachers happy following the failure of a one-cent tax that would have allowed for a significant pay raise, Unfiltered with Kiran has learned that talk of a four-day school week is gaining the attention of parish principals.

Livingston Parish Schools superintendent Joe Murphy proposed a possible four-day work week following the failure of the parish’s one-cent sales tax. The proposal, concocted along with three other measures, was perceived by many inside the district as a “Hail Mary” to keep parish educators from fleeing the district.

Murphy admitted that the issue was complex with parish-wide implications. While his three other proposals were approved by the board, the four-day school week was temporarily tabled.

Asking for input

Since it was introduced, UWK has learned that some schools in the parish have been exploring the idea further. Surveys have gone out to some educators this week asking for input on the impacts of a four-day work week, according to sources.

With the LPPS school calendar already set for the 2023-2024 school year, the earliest this could be implemented, if it gained traction, would be the 2024-2025 school year.

Murphy’s proposal was for the entire parish, but sources have told UWK that some principals are exploring the idea for their individual schools. Sources added those principals believe that even if there isn’t support for such a significant change to the parish school calendar, it is something that could work for their schools.

It’s seen by many as a recruiting tool principals can use to attract qualified educators despite the parish being among the lowest paid in the Baton Rouge area.

“Smoke and mirrors”

While a four-day school week is possible, many teachers who spoke with UWK feel that it’s “smoke and mirrors” to distract from the hostility of the failed pay raise for teachers and staff.

The teachers spoke under the condition of anonymity, but believe the idea is not feasible for all parish schools.

Some of the reasons they feel it isn’t practical is that many teachers are parents themselves with children who participate in extra curricular activities. One teacher said that longer work days would mean more sacrifices and the possibility of missed events.

Another educator said that they fear the four-day work week could interfere with after school jobs they depend on for supplemental income. They said with no substantial pay raise currently on the table, they will have to continue working their second jobs.

They are concerned that longer work days would mean they would be too exhausted to work a second job and wouldn’t make it based on their current start time.

While there are certainly educators against the change, there are still many who support the new hours. One teacher said they believe it would allow them more “quality time” with family.

Despite the personal reasons, very few who spoke with UWK about the proposal believe that students would benefit from a four-day school week.

Four-day school weeks in Louisiana

The idea of a four-day school week is not new. According to a study by Oregon State, more than 1,600 schools across 24 states have implemented four-day school weeks with most being “small, rural districts.”

Acadia Parish will be the latest in Louisiana to adopt a four-day school week this fall. They join parishes like Avoyelles, Caldwell and Franklin. There are also some schools that have independently implemented four-day school weeks.

Many made the switch as a cost-cutting move, a way to boost teacher morale and to help cut down on both teacher and student absences.

Each district that has implemented the four-day school week has different school hours and school days they take off, though many opt for having Mondays off. Generally, school days under the four-day schedule begin at 7:30 a.m. and end at 3:45 p.m. Some districts do go till 4 p.m.

There is no current time frame for Livingston Parish Schools to consider a change to the school calendar.

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