Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Time Magazine reports that as schools return to session in South Dakota, more than one-fourth of students in the state will only be in class from Monday through Thursday as budget constraints lead school districts to hack off a day from the school week. Larry Johnke, superintendant of the Irene-Wakonda school district, says the change will save his schools more than $50,000 per year and in order to make up for the missing day, schools will add 30 minutes to each of the other four days and shorten the daily lunch break. “In this financial crisis, we wanted to maintain our core content and vocational program, so we were forced to do this,” says Johnke. Experts say research is scant on the effect of a four-day school week on student performance but many of the 120 districts that have the shortened schedule nationwide say they've seen students who are less tired and more focused, which has helped raise test scores and attendance while others say that not only did they not save a substantial amount of money by being off an extra day, they also saw students struggle because they weren't in class enough and didn't have enough contact with teachers. "Teachers tell me they are much more focused because they've had time to prepare. They don't have kids sleeping in class on Tuesday," says LaKeisha Johnson, a parent in Peach County Georgia, who sends her fourth-grade daughter to the Boys & Girls Club on Mondays. "Everything has taken on a laser-light focus.""
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