Saturday, May 27, 2023

EDITORIAL: School experiment well worth the risks

| May 26, 2023 1:00 AM

This fall, Post Falls School District will boldly go where no local district has gone before.

The four-day school week beckons, and District 273 is tuning up its warp drive to answer that call.

It’s a pilot project, a one-year journey not completely unlike the Enterprise’s five-year mission. Post Falls is the local four-day school week pioneer — the fear-conquering, victorious explorer or perhaps the canary in the coal mine.

No matter what, The Press applauds PFSD for braving the unknown in an attempt to address several critical issues. One of the most challenging is hiring and retaining a great work force, including staff and teachers.

"We can't financially compete with schools in the state of Washington," said Michelle Lippert, school board chair. "This is something that we can do. I think it's going to be good."

District surveys are promising. A majority of parents and students expressed interest in the experiment. A full 85% of employees said they favor the four-day school week, even though school days will be longer, ranging from 25 to 45 extra minutes daily.

As the world changes, culturally, politically and yes, educationally, doing the same things you’ve always done won’t guarantee the same results. It would also be hypocritical of The Press to criticize the pilot program when it discontinued delivery of Monday print editions so it could hire and retain good carriers.

While Post Falls will be the first full four-day experiment here, some 850 school districts nationally are on four-day weeks — and the percentage is increasing rapidly as workforce realities change.

Nationally, that schedule has proven popular with many parents despite also increasing household child care costs by an average of 5% to 9%, according to a recent CNN report.

Some districts have also seen dips in test scores and lower overall academic achievement, but acknowledge those negatives are largely offset by instructing kids longer during the four weekdays they’re in school.

District 273 and its parents are taking a courageous step that could help other North Idaho school districts determine if it might also help them and their students. If we had it, we’d ship a cargo bay full of dilithium crystals to help PFSD on its way.

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