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Miles City schools going to four-day weeks to recruit, retain teachers

Miles City is the third Class A school to make move
Posted at 4:03 PM, Jan 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-30 18:03:39-05

MILES CITY- Another Montana school district is finding new ways to entice teachers to its district.

Miles City is the latest to make the move to a four-day school week.

Superintendent Meghan Brown says it's strictly a way to recruit and retain teachers.

“We don’t have the number entering the field as we do as the teachers existing the field,” she said.

The district conducted hearings, and meetings and sent out a survey to those in the district to get the word out about the idea, and it appears many were on board.

Brown said the survey indicated 78% of parents in support, 80% of students in support, and 92% of teachers and staff in support.

Then the school board voted in favor of it.

Only a handful of class Class A districts have gone to the four-day school week model, with Miles City following Sidney and Glendive.

Brown says the district wants to set Miles City apart from others, which is why the four-day school week is just one progressive new way, the district can offer teachers and support staff an ideal work environment.

“One of the things we started this year was an in-district daycare for our staff,” she said.

The move has its pros and cons.

Some parents who work five days a week are looking for childcare or daycare on Fridays in a town grappling with a shortage of workers in the childcare industry.

Many are confident that because the four-day school week doesn’t begin until 2024, it will give parents enough time to solve the issue.

Other parents, like Whitney Bird, are on board. She has three boys already in or ready to enter the Miles City school system.

“Sometimes I feel like they tend to be a little over-scheduled, so having that extra day at school will be really valuable,” said Bird.

She also mentioned that as her boys grow older, she sees more opportunities for them on Fridays in extracurricular activities or in the workforce.

“They’ll probably have some interest outside of school that they will want to do. That will be nice,” said Bird.

Another possible benefit: Having an additional day off school can aid in the youth mental health crisis.

“Of course, we can’t do a whole lot of one-on-one time with the kids while they try to focus on their studies,” said Britney Matzick, who works with Youth Dynamics of Miles City.

She says another day off could help improve the mental health of youths.

“It would be nice for them to set aside a whole day and see their kids face to face on that day,” said Matzick.

Brown says when it comes to attracting great teachers to stay, she believes the four-day school week could put Miles City on the map.

“It's something we can promote in our district that at this time other class As can’t,” she said.

Bird says it could mean the difference in a good teacher staying, "I think that most parents know that it’s the teachers that make the difference."