Peaster ISD trustees Thursday night passed the 2023-24 academic calendar to include a modified four-day school week.

The decision came after a committee made up of district administrators, teachers and parents spent roughly seven months researching the viability before presenting several options to the board. The committee presented a modified four-day calendar to take into account the community’s concerns that come with such an extended school day, limiting the additional time necessary per day to meet the state’s 75,600-minute school year requirement and reducing the total number of school days by only four days, creating a 174-day school year for teachers.

This calendar includes the same number of in-school minutes as required by the state, yet includes fewer overall workdays, which makes salary offerings more competitive with higher paying districts, the Peaster ISD board said in a press release. “Not only do we expect that this plan will help attract and retain quality teachers, but we also expect that this schedule will give teachers more time to prepare their lesson plans and timely grade assignments, both of which directly benefit students.”

Weighing whether to adopt a modified Friday or Monday option, the district said data showed high school students were twice as likely to be out of the classroom on Fridays than Mondays, with staff absences 50 percent higher with double the number of unfulfilled substitutes on Fridays than Mondays.

The modified Friday week also syncs with Weatherford College’s Monday-Thursday week to provide more flexibility for scheduling in-person dual credit classes. The plan was favored by 85 percent of community members in a survey sent out by the district.

Peaster will join more than 65 other Texas districts who have adopted some form of a modified four-day school week, including most in Palo Pinto County.

“These schools report a significant bump in the number of qualified applicants and a reduction in departures, which directly benefits their students by ensuring the best teachers are in the classroom,” according to the district’s press release. “This decision did not come easily and only after much discussion, contemplation and revision of the original draft calendar. We will monitor the implementation of this plan and make refinements as necessary.

“While we believe the changes are fairly minimal in comparison to the 2022-23 calendar, the board will monitor academic progress during this two-year pilot program and return to a five-day schedule if academic proficiency requires it.”

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