Streator Educators Mulling Four-Day School Week

Jun 7, 2016

The Streator Elementary District board is considering applying with the state for a waiver to pursue the shortened week.

Officials say it could result in more than $300,000 in savings.

The district faces declining enrollment and financial difficulties.

In fact, the district faces state intervention if it doesn’t resolve its budget issues.

Jerrilyn Zavada covers education for The Times based in Ottawa. She’s been following the latest proposals in the Streator school district.

The Times: Streator Elementary Exploring 4-Day Work Week

In your reporting, what can you tell us about how the district got to this point?

The district has been in financial difficulty for quite some time. They've closed a school. They've cut, I believe, 29 teaching positions as well as aide positions. I think they have made over $5 million dollars in cuts at least. Each year, they continue to make more cuts. The district has a 72 percent poverty rate, so it relies heavily on general state aid. In the past several years, the state has been prorating that state aid, which has been having a negative effect on the district. In addition, the district is landlocked and each year its Equalized Assessed Valuation has been dropping so the property tax base in going down.

If this measure is approved, the school days would be longer Monday through Thursday. What would need to happen to move this plan forward at the state level?

They need to apply for a waiver from the Illinois State Board of Education in order to do this. In the past, those applicants who have filed have not been approved. That state has been clear that to apply for this, it can't be economic measures, which kind of makes it difficult. They have to prove that it would be an innovative way to teach the students.

When could the four-day week take effect?

The earliest it could take effect would be the 2017-2018 school year.

The Streator board will host a state-mandated public hearing on June 21 at the district's Administrative Building. The application must be submitted to the state by Friday, Aug. 12.