School Systems’ Woes and One Solution

School is back in session. My twin teen nieces are now going to a public high school after being in a Christian based educational setting since toodlerhood. School systems are facing what to do with severe budget crunches. If they have managed to get around them this year, there is still next year.

Teacher’s unions are fighting the cuts and will not give into requests to take any kind of decrease. Many expect annual increases in pay or benefits even during these downed times! My teen nieces’ school district teachers went on strike last year for about 3 weeks for increased pay and benefits in the declining economy. Teacher Unions are standing firm but are coming up against some hard walls this school season as in the example of the New Jersey teachers’ losing battle with Gov. Chris Christie.

Now one of the ways school districts are dealing with budget crunches and teacher union demands is to go to a 4 day school week. The day is a littler longer and the school year is a couple of weeks longer. There are some school districts that went to a 4 day week in August and September such as the Snake River School District in Idaho. School employees and students like it. The 4 day week is gaining in popularity. Giving teachers more time to grade papers, students more time to work on assigned projects and giving older students more hours for part-time employment is part of the pro argument. But in these modern days, there are so many 1 (no spouse) and 2 parent working families! For many of them, the 4 day school week creates havoc.

The bottom line is that more money must come out of the family budget for the children on that 5th day of the regular work week to supervise the younger children. If they are in afterschool programs, most likely they have a solution. The children can spend that fifth day there, but the weekly child care bill will increase, plus child care providers will have to increase the after-school part-time staff’s hours. Older children can work on a part-time job and/or putting in the volunteer/community service hours needed to graduate high school. Well, in any case, declining school budgets mean it is not going to be business as usual for school districts staff, school unions, parents and students.

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