Colorado school districts choosing 4-day school weeks amid budget woes, teacher shortages

DENVER — Struggling with dwindling budgets and teacher shortages, Colorado school districts are increasingly choosing to shift to a four-day school week. 

According to the Colorado School Finance Project, 79 out of the state’s 178 school districts have switched to the shorter week, and more districts are considering going the same route.

Adams Weld School District 27-J is proposing a four-day school week to entice new teachers and retain existing educators who’ve proven to be an asset for the district.

"It creates time and space for teachers to grow and develop and be the best they can, for kids," said Superintendent Chris Fiedler. "That's why we're chasing it."

Fiedler says the shorter work week for teachers may generate more interest in the district, which is competing with neighboring districts in teacher pay.

The district can't afford to increase wages because the tax base is too small, and voters are reluctant to shell out more money, Fiedler said.

He says before they decide on switching, a series of community forums are scheduled to get input from parents. They will also have to renegotiate a contract with teachers because the current contract is written for five days.

While a shorter school week may get a near-universal endorsement from students, some parents are singing a different tune. 

"Parents work Monday through Friday," said Michelle Bunn, whose child that attends an Adams Weld school. "Taking out Monday is going to be really hard with child care. It's already hard enough, and it's already very expensive."

Critics argue the four-day model affects the quality of instruction. However, districts that have made the switch have yet to report any significant issues, and Fielder points out research that suggests the four-day schedule has no impact on student achievement. 

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