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Editorial: Is four enough?

It shouldn't be terribly surprising that three southwest Minnesota school districts -- Round Lake-Brewster, Southwest Star Concept and Windom -- are mulling over four-day weeks as a means of saving money.

In September 2008, MACCRAY (Maynard-Clara City-Raymond) became the only school district in the state with the shorter week, and it's probably only a matter of time -- given budget woes across Minnesota -- that other district follow that lead.

At first glance, a four-day school week doesn't seem like that bad an idea. Besides saving money, a longer day in classrooms (the lost day's hours can't be eliminated, of course) could have benefits such as better attendance (studies show this to be to the case), and more time for students' out-of-school employment and/or extracurriculars.

On the other hand, four-day weeks could increase the amount of unsupervised time youths have while not in school. Parents may face an additional burden in added daycare costs, too. And at a time when the U.S. must do all it can to keep pace with other countries in terms of educating tomorrow's leaders, a four-day week almost certainly doesn't help matters.

While the RL-B and SSC districts -- whose respective superintendents are husband and wife, incidentally -- have been actively researching the potential change, Windom superintendent Wayne Wormstadt told the Daily Globe: "There's a lot of things we could do before then; that would be our worst-case scenario." We hope each district makes a careful decision on this matter while, most importantly, putting students' learning first.

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