Liberty ISD students are moving to a four-day school week this fall. The plan was initiated by the District’s board of trustees and supported by parents and teachers who were surveyed by a 3 to 1 margin, according to Superintendent Dr. Cody Abshier.
Students will start the year attending school on a five-day-a-week calendar and then transition into a four-day-a-week schedule. Abshier said the shift will occur around the end of the first six weeks.
Among Liberty County pre-K through 12th grade districts, Liberty ISD is the first to adopt a four-day schedule. However, Devers ISD, which lacks a high school, was the first school district in the County to move to a four-day week.
“We are connected to Devers ISD because almost all of the students from Devers ISD come to Liberty ISD for high school,” Abshier said. “We have many siblings who are going to Devers and Liberty simultaneously, so this will probably be welcome news for those families.”
Instruction time will not be cut to make up for the reduction in days. Instead, the new schedule will have classes starting a few minutes earlier and ending a few minutes later in the day. The District is also removing some days from the schedule that were reserved for school holidays. None of the changes will be significant.
“Basically, it’s a trade-off. We have a certain number of minutes of instruction each day that we, by law, must provide,” he said.
Abshier said the Board recognizes that there will be some pros and cons to the new schedule. The most worrisome “con” for Abshier are the children who will be stuck at home without academic stimulation.
The “pros” are easier, such as more time for staff development and lesson planning, which could make instruction time more productive; more time for athletics programs and other extracurricular activities, which are an incentive for many students to attend school and keep up their grades; act as an incentive for teacher recruitment and retention; and time for day camps where the students can learn skills such as cooking, sewing or learning another language.
Abshier said the move to the four-day schedule is not financially motivated.
“This is not about a money savings plan. We brought the information to the board, and they wanted to give it a try. We think it might be really good for the students and their parents. We sought input from all stakeholder groups in the community and this is what they wanted,” he said.