New Missouri bill would ensure district voters get say in 4-day school week

A Missouri state representative is pushing back after the Independence School District (ISD) became the largest in the state to adopt a four-day school week, despite opposition from parents.

Rep. Aaron McMullen, R-District 20, filed a bill Tuesday that would require a majority vote of the school board and the people living in the district in order to enact a four-day school week in Missouri. If approved, the bill would go into effect for the 2023-2024 school year.

As previously reported by The Lion, the Independence School Board voted 6-1 in December in favor of a four-day school week, with no classes on Mondays. The new schedule is set to take effect in the fall. In its decision, the board argued the change will help the district attract and retain teachers amid a nationwide shortage.

Concerned parents and citizens spoke out against the plan, saying it wasn’t “in the best interest of students” and that other factors, such as planning time and morale, would do more for teacher retention.

“It’s more about how does this impact adults?” asked Marcie Gragg, a concerned mother of four. “And then we’ll just wait and see down the road how kids fare through this.” 

“I certainly hope teachers are not fooled into believing that this is a 4-day work week,” Brandi Pruente, a former teacher and mother of three, commented in a Facebook post. “It most certainly looks like they will be working all week with longer days as well. Please tell me we have better ideas for attracting teachers to this district.” 

In another post, Pruente said a four-day school week will cost her family over $1200 more per year in childcare expenses.  

In an interview with KCMO talk radio host Pete Mundo last Monday, McMullen said the bill has bi-partisan support and he hopes it will move quickly in the legislature, which would help ensure district voters can see it on a ballot before the next school year begins. 

“It affects the whole community… I even spoke to one school board member that currently does the four-day and they said the teachers love it, but unfortunately, they feel like the kids are falling behind,” McMullen told Mundo. 

The bill was filed Jan 17. is not yet scheduled for a hearing.