Shortening School Days/ Weeks

As+parents+picked+up+their+children+at+Grady+Elementary+School%2C+their+reactions+to+the+possibility+of+a+four-day+school+week+were+mixed.+Stay+at+home+moms+were+happy+and+parents+that+worked+were+not.

Sienna Harrison

As parents picked up their children at Grady Elementary School, their reactions to the possibility of a four-day school week were mixed. Stay at home moms were happy and parents that worked were not.

Sienna Harrison, Staffer

Some Hillsborough County public high school students are shortening their school days so they can focus on building careers in professional sports or performing arts. At Plant High School, a few dozen students have modified their schedules so they can go to school for the first four periods of the day and complete the additional three classes online at a different time. This allows them to attend sports practices and training commitments. Sophomore Christine Johnson takes four classes at Plant before leaving late morning to attend ballet classes at the Straz Center.

The idea behind the shortened school days, is so these students can have a traditional high school experience while also working towards their college and career goals. Many students who go into professional sports and performing arts attend school virtually, but the district wanted to provide these highly motivated students a chance to do both. Another reason Hillsborough was considering shortening school days was to address teacher shortages. Hillsborough hoped to raise teachers’ salaries through a millage property tax increase, but the measure failed. The district might now consider creative ideas to compete with surrounding districts, nearly all of which have passed a millage increase to raise teacher pay.

There are currently 300 teacher vacancies in Hillsborough, down from about 600 at the start of the school year. The idea of a four-day school week was suggested and Rob Kriet, the president of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association, said his organization would be willing to consider the plan. “We have to be as creative as possible in this district,” Kriet said. “We must find every possible way to meet [ students’ and teachers’] needs and if that means changing the scheduling and traditionally how we do the work that we do, we’re all for it. We’re open to it.”“It’d be tricky and its already tricky,” added Garrett Clausen. “But you know what? You work through it. You find out ways to make it work.”

As parents picked up their children at Grady Elementary School, their reactions to the possibility of a four-day school week were mixed. “As a stay-at-home mom, I think it would be nice to have a four-day week. As for parents that work, I do think it would be difficult,” said Katie Sickles. Hillsborough School Board Chair Nadia Combs said she would only consider a four-day school week if the district still offered parents a place to bring their children on the fifth day.