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Sanger ISD switching to four-day week next year

Sanger High School
DRC file photo
Sanger High School

Sanger ISD announced Tuesday that the district will shift to a four-day instructional week for the 2024-25 school year. The school board recently approved the change unanimously, according to a news release, after “extensive research, community engagement, and discussion.”

For families who might not have adequate child care — or who might not have even considered it given the long-standing five-day week — the district is working to develop programs that will serve students in kindergarten through fifth grade on Fridays.

For eligible students, participation in the prospective Friday program will be free, other than a small registration fee. Students outside the criteria would be able to participate at their families’ expense.

The district didn't give a clear reason for the significant change but mentioned the nationwide teacher shortage. The Texas Education Agency reported that for the current year, Texas public schools don't have enough teachers to serve in bilingual education positions, computer science and technology applications in all grade levels across the state. Texas high schoolers don't have the number of teachers they need in math, science, English and language arts classrooms, the report found.

“We believe that this transition to a four-day instructional week aligns with our commitment to innovative teaching and learning practices,” Sanger ISD Superintendent Tommy Hunter said in the release. “Our goal is to better serve our students, teachers, and families while addressing the challenges posed by the nationwide teacher shortage.”

In the recent 88th Legislature, Texas lawmakers failed to pass raises for teachers and opted not to adequately fund public schools. The most contentious school funding issue taken up by state lawmakers was a proposed school voucher-like program, which ultimately failed.

The state comptroller’s office reported a year ago that Texas’ rainy day fund is projected to surpass $27 billion by fiscal 2025, “a drastic uptick from less than $11 billion at the close of fiscal 2022. This means that the fund could reach the upper limit of its constitutionally mandated balance for the first time in its nearly 35-year history.” None of those funds were earmarked to help Texas schools afford inflation or growth in the state's metro areas.

Rural districts such as Sanger ISD have taken the brunt of the state's decisions on school finance.

So what's ahead for Sanger ISD students next year? Students, faculty and staff will follow a traditional five-day week during August and September, according to the release. Campuses will move to a four-day instructional week in October through the rest of the school year.

Campuses within the district will operate from Monday through Thursday, with daily instructional time extended by a modest 35 minutes.

In Texas, public school students are legally required to have 75,600 instructional hours in a school year. Sanger ISD's new plan appears to meet that legal requirement with the additional instructional minutes added over the four-day week.