CASA GRANDE, AZ — Three-day weekends are the new normal for students and families in the Casa Grande Elementary School District this year.
In February, the CGESD Governing Board voted to implement a four-day week for students and teachers based on responses from a survey.
Now that the 2022-2023 school year has started, it's the first time the district is enacting the new schedule.
"It really made sense to move to a different model for both our students and our families," explains Dr. Adam Leckie, CGESD Superintendent. He says one of the goals is to help students deal with mental health, but it's not the only goal.
"It's about recruiting the best teachers and putting the best, most qualified teachers in front of every student. We know that the greatest influence on student achievement is the quality of the teacher in the classroom."
Villago Middle School Principal Jeff Lavender says it's already working.
"It's a recruiting tool," he says. "Teaching is a demanding job. A lot of teachers get worn down. As a principal, I can see it throughout the year. Those four-day weeks will allow teachers to re-energize."
To make up for losing Fridays, the district is adding 30 minutes to each day. Also, there will be no more early dismissals on Wednesdays. The district will also have one-week Fall and Spring Breaks this year instead of the two-week-long breaks.
One Friday a month, teachers will come in so they can attend specialized training and workshops.
"We have to make it work. We have to tighten up and make sure instructional time is a priority and that we are using it to the best of our ability," explains Lavender. "We need to be more strategic in how we are addressing learning and how we're using data to grow."
Eighth-grade student Megan Galvan says she'd actually rather be in class on Fridays and says she'll miss the social outlet schools provides.
"I get to see my friends," she says.
But her mom, Valerie Flores, is fully on board.
"They need the rest day," says Flores. "It gives me an extra day for easy appointment scheduling and for extra activities so that it doesn't run into their bedtime."
The only thing Flores wishes she could change is the fact that her children will be on different schedules; her oldest son is in the Casa Grande Union High School District, which opted to stay on a five-day week, so when her two youngest kids have Fridays off, her oldest will still be in class.
Another concern some parents have is finding childcare on Fridays. The Boys and Girls Club of the Sun Corridor, which services the Casa Grande area, says it will offer all-day care on Fridays for $10 per day. There are several other options if your child needs care beyond Fridays. Scholarships are also available for families that may need help. For more information, head to Boy & Girls Clubs of the Sun Corridor's website
And for a list of food resources, click here.