Newcastle students go back to school today, marking the start of the second year of utilizing the four-day week.
Newcastle Public Schools Superintendent Tony O'Brien says, according to survey information, the four-day school week was initially difficult but it created an overall boost in morale among district staff and students. Even though students in the district will only be in the classroom for 149 days this year, the district is managing to avoid some problems causing a headache for other districts in the state.
Since the start of the four-day school week, discipline numbers have gone done and overall grades for secondary schools have gone up. Also, O'Brien hasn't had to hire any emergency certified teachers but says they're still a little understaffed.
“We still have some math positions we have to fill,” O’Brien said, “so that may have to change in the near future. So that's an advantage of the four-day school week. We’ve been able to recruit teachers pretty well and haven't had to emergency certify anyone yet.”
O'Brien says because of vital cost savings, he doesn't see the four-day school system going anywhere soon.
“I think it's probably the plan for a while,” he said. “You know, things can happen and if the state decides we shouldn’t do it or if the board decides to make a change then that's up to them. But we have enough happy people that this is probably the plan for a while.”
O'Brien says the one goal for Newcastle Public Schools and schools across the state is to fight to put money back in the classrooms and make education a priority.