School News: Taxpayer savings from four-day week continue to grow

By Deb Henton, Ed.D., superintendent, North Branch Area School Dist. 138

Never let them tell you that summer is “down time” in a school district. We have just a few short months to take care of a mountain of last year’s business and another year for which to prepare. All of us are working hard in preparation for 2012-13!

One of the tasks on our summer “to do” list recently has been our annual report to the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), in which we review key indicators to see how we are doing with our four-day week schedule.

As most of you will remember, North Branch Area Public Schools began researching the schedule after hearing from community and school board members that it might save money and mitigate annual budget deficits caused by an inequitable state funding system. We moved to a four-day week for the 2010-11 school year, and just completed our second year.

So, how did we do?

I am very pleased to report that the school district saved over $235,000 this year as a result of the four-day week. While much of those savings will go toward reducing the need for future cuts, some was again used to provide half-day, every day kindergarten to our families; something we are thrilled about being able to offer.

Even more exciting, when the savings from this year are added to last year’s, the district has already protected over $500,000 in taxpayer funds that has been and will continue to be used to protect the educational experience here at North Branch Area Public Schools.

A half-a-million dollars in savings in just two years is reason to celebrate, don’t you think?

The success we are enjoying with our alternative schedule is a testament not just to the staff here, but to all of the families we serve. The vast majority have happily worked with the school district to make the four-day week successful, and we are deeply appreciative of our partners in the community.

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