Nebraska rural schools go to four-day week in effort to attract, keep teachers

WEEPING WATER, Neb. (KLKN) — As many larger school districts lean on hiring bonuses to recruit teachers, smaller districts have to come up with other ideas. 

This school year, Weeping Water, a district with fewer than 300 students, became the sixth Nebraska district to go to a four-day week.

Administrators said this was done because it was getting harder to find teachers.  

As a small school district, we simply don’t have financial resources,” Superintendent Kevin Reiman said. “So we felt that this is a way for us to be competitive with some of the larger school districts in recruiting quality teacher candidates.” 

The State Board of Education says schools need to fill a total number of school hours each year.  There is no requirement for a five-day week. 

Elementary schools need to have 1,032 hours, and high schools must have 1,080 hours. 

“I think with a small school, we’re able to maybe adapt to things better than maybe a larger school is,” Reiman said. 

Weeping Water looked at others, like Conestoga School District, which has been on four-day week since 2006. 

School administrators said teachers have been positive about the changes. 

“They feel better that they have time with their families on the weekends and aren’t worried about getting all of the things they need to get ready for school,” said Amy Kroll, director of school improvement and student services. 

Reiman said there were concerns in the community when the changes were announced. 

“There were some initial questions,” he said. “A lot of them deal with child care. How do we provide child care?” 

Reiman said the community and the school worked together to address the problem. 

“We do have an in-house child care, and that was kind of seen as a backup,” he said.

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