Academy ISD approves move to four-day week for schools

Academy ISD
Posted at 2:39 PM, Jan 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-19 18:40:50-05

LITTLE RIVER-ACADEMY, Texas — Students and staff at Academy ISD will move to a four-day week next year after the district's board of trustees approved the switch Wednesday night with a unanimous vote.

The 2023-2024 school year will start in early August and end before Memorial Day, a district spokesperson told 25 News.

The board of trustees worked for months to finalize plans for shorter weeks including surveying parents and opening public comment on the proposal, according to the district..

"They did not make this decision in haste," Billy Harlan, the district's superintendent, said in a statement. "In August, we began surveying our stakeholders: our parents, staff, and students. I am thankful for a community that provided feedback and gave valuable input along the way."

District officials said next year's schooldays will also increase by 10 minutes to make up the mandatory 75,600 "operational minutes" set by the Texas Education Agency.

Breaks for Thanksgiving, winter holidays and Spring Break will remain unchanged.

Still, the district's decision for one less day in the school week left many parents in the district puzzled.

"I’m surprised that they even thought about a 4 day week," Lindsey Rowe, an Academy ISD alum and parent, said about the board's decision. "I believe our kids need to be in school 5 days a week. I hope this decision was made in the best interest of our kids."

Rowe said while the change would not affect her family's situation, many parents would be scrambling for options with childcare.

District officials said the shorter schedule translates to "recruiting and retaining the best educators in Central Texas" and smaller class sizes, which they claim will improve academic performance.

Parents against the change like Rowe say it's a big gamble to attract educators to the district with a student population of 1,750 this school year.

"I agree about have less students in a classroom," Rowe said. "But with other districts talking about switching as well, it concerns me that we won’t get the teachers they are hoping for."

The district superintendent said they are working to finalize next year's academic calendar.