Ariz. district cuts school week to save cash

SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. (AP) -- A school district has decided to shrink the school week from five days to four in an effort to save cash because of the deepening recession and falling enrollment.

The Bisbee Unified School District board voted Thursday to close schools every Friday for the next two school years. District Superintendent Gail Covington had recommended the shortened school week as a way to save $500,000 each year in the small southeastern Arizona town.

School days would be lengthened by an hour to make up the lost instructional time.

Bisbee Unified had just under 1,000 students during the 2007-2008 school year at four schools: an elementary, middle, junior high and high school. The superintendent has proposed closing the middle school and moving some grades.

Covington said the Friday closures are a more desirable alternative to laying off 13 teachers, but some staff - including principals, cafeteria and custodial workers - would lose their jobs.

She acknowledged that working families would have a hard time finding child care on Fridays.

Rebecca Barten, mother of a kindergartener in the district, said parents who attended the board meeting weren't allowed to address the panel before the vote. "I wanted to hear about all the possible scenarios, not just what was said," she said.

Other school districts have proposed cutting school weeks to save on high fuel costs.

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Information from:

Sierra Vista Herald, http://www.svherald.com/

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