Roughly 170 of Missouri’s more than 500 school districts operate four days a week, but there’s a legislative effort that could limit who offers the shortened weeks.

Sen. Doug Beck, D-Affton, wants to require districts with more than 30,000 residents to hold school five days a week, unless a majority of voters back a four-day school week model. Beck is proposing to provide extra state funding to schools who hold classes five days a week.

“This bill is filled with a lot of carrots,” he told a Missouri Senate committee on Wednesday. “There are no sticks and that’s what I was trying to do with this bill. I was trying to incentivize five-day schools.”

Under his bill, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education would provide districts and charter schools with a five-day school week an amount equal to 2% of such district’s or charter school’s June state aid entitlement for the preceding year. The funds would only be allowed to increase teacher salaries.

Most of the districts operating four days a week are rural ones, but larger districts are beginning to do the same to help recruit and retain teachers.

Beck, a former school board member, said he wants the whole community to get involved in deciding whether a shortened week is appropriate.

“Senate Bill 784 does not prohibit four-day weeks, but rather, it involves the whole community by allowing the people to decide what works best for their neighborhood,” said Beck.

In Missouri, districts holding classes four days a week must still meet the same number of learning hours as schools operating five days a week.

“In the past few years, most schools around the state have started to adopt a four-day school week,” he said. “Four-day school weeks are popular and seem to have minimal repercussions to learning and teacher retention. However, we live in a big and diverse state and as such, different communities, different districts have different needs.”

The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has released a study showing that four-day school weeks are not helping or harming student achievement in Missouri. The study used standardized and end-of-course tests scores in math, Science, and English from 2011 to 2022.

For more information about Senate Bill 784, click here.

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