A Northland school district is working on moving to a four-day school week, and the move could be coming pretty soon.

Pine Knot News reports that Carlton School District is aiming for a switch to a four-day school week, which they say could go into effect as soon as next year, for the 2024-2025 academic year.

The district’s school board voted to approve the measure on Monday night, but that isn’t the final step in the process.

The Carlton School District's superintendent, Donita Stepan, initially unveiled the proposal earlier this month, which would make the school week run Monday through Thursday, with some flexibility.

Why would Carlton School District want to move to a four-day school week?

Carlton Middle / High School in Carlton, MN
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

In a presentation on the subject, the district outlined a series of reasons for the move to a shorter school week. Here were their reasons:

  • More Time for Life: Our four-day school week provides students with additional time for exploration, personal growth, and family engagement. More time for homework, more time for activities.
  • Hands-On Learning: Experience hands-on, real-world opportunities that empower students to take ownership of their education.
  • Community Connections: Engage with the community through volunteering, internships, collaborative projects, work experience.
  • Holistic Development: Foster holistic development by prioritizing mental health, socialization, and well-being.
  • Innovative Programs: Explore innovative programs and opportunities that prepare our students for success in a rapidly changing world.
  • Engaging Exploratories: Discover a wide range of extracurricular activities, clubs, and sports teams to fuel passions and interests.
  • Supporting Teachers: Our flexible calendar ensures that teachers have the support and resources they need to excel.
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One of the other goals of this proposal is to increase overall attendance over the coming years.

What would this shortened week look like?

Classes most weeks would run Monday-Thursday, with school hours on the days in session being 25 minutes longer for most students. There would be no more early dismissal on Wednesdays.

The proposal also explains that there is flexibility baked into the schedule. For example, if there is a Monday that is a no-school day (for a holiday, for example), classes could still be held on Friday to keep the four-day week intact.

The district says sports would be unaffected. Free breakfast and lunch would still be provided to students on the off day.

The district's superintendent says there are no anticipated layoffs if this change is made, although some staff, especially paraprofessionals, could be reassigned.

What needs to happen for this change to take place?

Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

The district's presentation explains that there was an interest within the district to pursue this in 2023, but were unable to do so due so because the Minnesota Department of Education was not accepting applications for four-day school weeks at that time

With the MDE opening applications once again on March 14 of this year, the school district decided to revisit the idea.

After a public feedback, a hearing, and the school board voting to approve the measure on April 15, an application now needs to go to the Minnesota Department of Education before their deadline of April 22 to file to enact a shorter school week.

Following the approval from the school board, an application would then go before the Minnesota Department of Education, where the plan would go for final approval. The district's superintendent told Pine Knot News that a ruling on the application could be expected within 60 days, allowing the district to make plans for the new school year.

Currently, six school districts around the state are already on four-day schedules. Those districts include:

  • Atwater Cosmos Grove City School District
  • Blackduck School District
  • Lake Superior School District
  • MacCray School District
  • Ogilvie School District

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