Following the news that the Independence School District near Kansas City became the largest in the state to move to a four-day school week, lawmakers have been working behind the scenes to go back to a traditional five-day academic week. State Sen. Doug Beck, a former school board member in Affton, is leading the effort.

“My provision to bring five-day school weeks back to Missouri, districts wanting to go back to a four-day week would need a vote of the people and it would only affect non rural areas and that was exempt from the senators in these rural areas that wanted to exempt their folks from this.” he said.

The provision is for Missouri charter counties and cities with more than 30,000 people may adopt a four-day school week, but only through asking the voters by way of a ballot measure. It’s an add-on to Senate Bill 411, which primarily focuses on home school education, but it appears to have bipartisan support.

“I think the more contact we have, students have with their teachers, like 174 days compared to 142 days, is critical to learning,” according to Beck. “We also have, every four days you go to school, you’re gonna have three days off, and we see it with kids when they’re off, the days, you have a loss of learning and then you got to come back and you got to relearn things.”

On the other side of the aisle, Senate Minority Leader Cindy O’Laughlin, R-Shelbina, expressed support for the idea.

“I’m not an advocate for the four-day week,” she said. “One of the great topics of the day that seems to not be talked about is the continuing decline in the outcomes of our education system. We continue to spend more money on it, and we continue to have a downward trend in reading and math and the things that people need to know when they graduate from school.”

Beck said that, if it were up to him, it would be instituted statewide, but he’s heard from senators in rural areas of Missouri who wanted to be exempt from his provision.

The Missouri House of Representatives is currently considering the bill following Senate passage. House Speaker Dean Plocher, R-Des Peres, also supports the move.

“I personally stand on the fact that I believe children should be in school five days a week. We need to educate our children. Our children need to be prepared for a challenging future, to rise to those challenges, and to create they have the opportunity to live the American dream, and that starts with education. Shortening school weeks does not solve the problem that we are facing in this country,” he said.

Click here for more information on Senate Bill 411.

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