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Sanger ISD implements Four-Day School Week




Last week, Sanger ISD announced a four-day instructional week for next school year. Sanger Independent School District adopted a four-day instructional week for the upcoming 2024-2025 academic year. Following extensive research, community engagement, and discussions, the SISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved this change on Monday night, which will take effect in August of the upcoming school year.

The new schedule will feature a traditional five-day week during the months of August and September, transitioning to a four-day instructional week in October through the remainder of the school year. Campuses within the district will operate from Monday through Thursday, with daily instructional time extended by a modest 35 minutes.

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

Under the new schedule, teachers and staff will work one Friday per month, providing them at least three Fridays off each month for personal and family commitments. This flexibility aims to enhance teacher retention and job satisfaction while promoting a healthy work-life balance.

The district is currently in discussions with various programs to offer educational opportunities tailored explicitly for Fridays. These programs will cater to the educational needs of up to 300 students in grades K-5 who meet specific criteria. For eligible students, participation in the program will be free, with only a small registration fee. However, should students outside the criteria wish to participate, they may do so at their parents' expense.

Throughout the 2024-2025 school year, Sanger ISD remains committed to soliciting feedback from stakeholders to evaluate the effectiveness of the four-day instructional week and make necessary adjustments to support the success of students, families, and educators.

Texas is experiencing a statewide teacher shortage, particularly in rural areas. Rural school districts in Texas cannot compete with the pay and benefits packages offered by larger districts. Just like the rest of the state, the shortage is affecting Sanger ISD. For example, eighteen teachers and paraprofessionals have left our district since August 2023 for various reasons, including leaving the profession.  

In Texas, schools have to be open for a minimum of 75,600 minutes over a school year, which includes recess and lunch. Districts have control over how these minutes are spread out, giving flexibility to schools to adopt the four-day model. Some are adding time to each of the four remaining school days to make up for the extra day off; others are extending the school year.

Sanger ISD is provided this detailed information on their website explaining the reasoning.

Sanger ISD is focused on teacher retention and recruitment, academic achievement, time to plan meaningful instruction, and students' and staff's social and emotional well-being.  In order to achieve our goal of recruiting and retaining the highest quality teachers for our students, we must think outside the box. 

In a growing trend that has proven successful in other districts across the nation and particularly in rural school districts in Texas, the transition to a 4-day school week has proven to be an effective recruiting/retaining tool for teachers and all staff. With a 4-day instructional week, we would entice more talented teachers and staff to join Sanger ISD and decrease the ever-rising turnover rate.

What are the reasons for considering this change?

• To help recruit and retain certified, highly qualified teachers.

• We are unable to pay our employees the same salaries as the larger districts in our area. This would help give Sanger ISD a competitive edge in hiring employees.

• We have found that other districts that have 4-day instructional weeks are able to fill positions with high-quality teachers, aides, bus drivers, etc.

• Hiring and retaining the highest quality teachers and support staff will increase the effectiveness of our instruction and promote student success.


Fewer substitutes are needed.


It will assist in keeping student and staff morale high.


Having one day off a week will potentially increase the attendance rates of students and staff alike and improve work/life balance.


What day will we be out?


We are currently creating a draft calendar with Fridays off. 


Students would attend a traditional 5-day week during August and September and a 4-day week throughout the remainder of the year. 


Teachers and staff will be scheduled to work one Friday a month. 


Sanger ISD employees will have at least three Fridays off each month to spend with family, schedule appointments, rest, and take care of personal business.


Will this make the school year longer?


The school year will start approximately one week earlier but end on May 22nd. 


Teachers will return on  August 1st.


Students will start on August 7th. 


Will we lose instructional time?


The total number of instructional days for students on the draft calendar is 156 days, with 495 minutes of instructional time each day. This total of 77,220 minutes for the year meets the state's requirement of 75,600 minutes of instructional time. 


No early release dates are built into this calendar. Early release days have typically been used on Fridays prior to holidays or extended breaks in the calendar. Since we will not be attending school on Fridays, early release days have been removed from the calendar. 


What are the start and stop times for Elementary (PK-5)?

Elementary  - 7:40 - 3:55


Teachers - 7:30 - 4:05


What are the start and stop times for Secondary (6-12)?


Secondary - 8:05 - 4:30


Teachers - 7:55 - 4:40


What are the start and stop times for Linda Tutt High School?


Elementary  - 7:40 - 3:55


Teachers - 7:30 - 4:05


What are the start and stop times for Tenderfoot Daycare?


Opens at 7:05


Closes at 5:00


Will a 4-day school week shorten holidays during the year?

No! Holidays will not be shortened.


Thanksgiving Break will still be a week.


Christmas Break will be the same length.


Spring Break will still be a week.


How will this affect extracurricular activities on Fridays (ball games, etc?) if a Friday-off calendar is chosen?

Sanger ISD will continue to compete and participate on Fridays in athletics and other extracurricular activities, as required by the UIL. 


Transportation will be provided on Fridays as needed for such activities.


Pep Rallies will be held on Thursdays when we are scheduled to be out on a Friday. 


Will educational opportunities be provided on Fridays?


Up to 300 students who meet specific criteria will be provided educational experiences on Fridays.


Breakfast and lunch will be provided.


An evaluation of the program will be conducted at the end of the school year to determine the rate at which it is utilized.


Will this lower the pay of teachers or other support staff?


Teacher salaries are based on the minutes of instruction provided, as required by Texas law. As teachers will continue to meet the required minutes of instruction during the longer school days and shorter school weeks, salaries will not be reduced.


How will Curriculum and Instruction change?


The academic achievement of our students is always at the forefront of any decisions made at Sanger ISD. The transition to a 4-day school week will extend the instructional time in each content area. As a result, the scope and sequence for each subject will be structured based on minutes rather than days of the week. The Curriculum and Instruction Department will be working to create new curriculum maps based on a 4-day school week. With these revisions, Sanger ISD will ensure that the TEKS will be covered thoroughly in the 4-day school week. 


How will teachers continue to learn and grow?


A 4-day work week can potentially benefit teachers in several ways regarding planning and professional development:


Extended Planning Time: With an extra day off during the week, teachers have more uninterrupted time to plan their lessons, create teaching materials, grade assignments, and collaborate with colleagues. This can lead to more effective lesson plans and better organization of teaching materials.


Professional Development Opportunities: The additional day off can be utilized for professional development activities such as attending workshops, conferences, seminars, or engaging in online courses to enhance teaching skills and stay updated on educational trends and best practices. 


Flexibility and Creativity: Having an extra day off each week can encourage teachers to explore innovative teaching methods, experiment with new instructional techniques, and incorporate more creative and engaging activities into their lessons. This flexibility can lead to a more dynamic and stimulating learning environment for students.


Is the 4-day instructional week being introduced for financial reasons?

No. The 4-day instructional week is revenue-neutral. Again, our goal for implementing a 4-day educational workweek is to create an attractive incentive for recruiting and retaining teachers and staff. 


How will the district know if this is successful?


If we move forward with the 4-Day Instructional Week, it would be a 3-year Pilot Program. We will look at the following data to determine if it is successful or not:


Student academic success (STAAR Tests, reading levels, math skills levels, completing dual credit college hours before graduation, earning an industry-based certification before graduation, ASVAB scores, ACT and SAT scores, and graduation rates).


Student attendance rates.


Employee attendance rates.


Employee retention rate.


Numbers of certified and highly qualified applicants for each open position.


Student enrollment numbers.


Percentage of students participating in extracurricular activities.


Parent climate surveys.


Student climate surveys.


Employee climate surveys.

For more information and updates on Sanger ISD's innovative initiatives, please visit https://www.sangerisd.net/ or contact them at 940-458-7438.

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