Local lawmaker proposes four day school week

By Crystal Britt
POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - Would you be in favor of your children only going to class four days a week? Legislation in the works at the Missouri Statehouse in Jefferson City could give districts that option. 
Currently it's seven hours a day, five days a week inside the classroom.
"All we need in our schedule is one more clock hour to make it work."
State Represenative Gayle Kingery of Poplar Bluff believes he'll get the support needed to pass his four day school week bill. He says 17 states already have schools using that calendar.
"Having that extra day off each week seems to be a big motivation factor for kids to go to school," Kingery said. "The drop out rates have gone down, the attendance has gone up and the discipline referrals were fewer and fewer." 
Represenative Kingery also says test scores tend to improve and districts save bundles on heating and transportation.
"Currently we have 174 days in our calendar," he said. "With a calendar of 142 days, we cut 32 of those out so that's 32 days those big yellow buses don't have to run." 
The proposal doesn't come without concerns.
"In first grade their attention span is short anyway. So, to extend that day any longer is probably going to be very hard on them," said teacher Elizabeth Bliss. 
On the other hand, Bliss says she would save on gas money.  
"It would be a lot cheaper," she said 
"I think the children would really like it," said Sherry Powell, a parent. "I'm for it. It would be a good thing. Might be a problem though for those who need babysitting."
Childcare on that 5th day is big concern, and there's one the bill's sponser even worries about.
"Food for students on free and reduced lunches," said Kingery. 
Representative Kingery sat down with a group of area superintendents explaining the bill and taking their questions.
"If they keep it as flexible as he says they mean it to be, I think it could be a help to school districts experiencing some financial difficulties," said Clearwater Schools Superintendent Blaine Keel. 
It's something the Piedmont administrator isn't ruling out.
"There's a few concerns, but I think overall the bugs can be worked out and this could be beneficial," said Keel. 
Representative Kingery says smaller, more rural school districts would likely benefit the most.
"It does work. Will it fit everybody? Probably not," said Kingery. 
"I can see the pros and cons of both," said Elizabeth Bliss. 
"If it didn't work out, they could always go back to five days," said Sherry Powell. 
Again, this wouldn't be required.  It would be optional. Representative Kingery says the bill hit the house floor Thursday, and could be up for a vote next week. If it passes, districts could start the new four day school week for the 2010-2011 school year.