FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — The ALLPS School of Innovation in Fayetteville is the only school in its district to run on a four day schedule. Denise Hoy has been the principal of the school since 2014.
“The first year I was here, I noticed a trend of low attendance on Fridays,” Dr. Hoy said. “In an alternative school, attendance is typically the problem.”
She noticed that attendance would normally go from about 76% to 30% on Fridays, so she decided to fill out a School of Innovation waiver with the Arkansas Department of Education.
“I submitted a request to waive the 30 hours of attendance to 24 hours,” Dr. Hoy said. “That allowed me one full day and we chose Fridays.”
The state department defines a School of Innovation, or SOI, as one that “transforms teaching and learning,” something Hoy set out to do when she accepted the position.
Students can earn a three day weekend by keeping up good grades, behavior, and attendance.
“After implementing that for a year, we went from a 76% attendance rate to a 93% attendance rate,” Dr. Hoy said. “That’s kind of been consistent for the past five years.”
“I feel like there could be a lot of benefits for kids as far as improved sleep, less stress, better mental and physical health,” said nurse practitioner for Northwest Health, Heron Martin.
Martin says shorter weeks can help students with stress management.
“In junior high and high school, kids have a lot of stress,” Martin said. “They put stress on themselves. Stress from their friends, their teachers, their parents. And they often overdo it. They need to learn how to manage their stress so that they don’t develop anxiety and depression.”
While Martin thinks it’s an interesting concept, she doesn’t think the Natural State is ready for the change as a whole.
“Our traditional workforce works five days a week, there could be a lot of childcare issues when it comes to that four day work week,” Martin said.
“Springdale has never really gotten serious about a four day school week,” said communication director for the Springdale School District, Rick Schaeffer. “It was looked at a few years ago, did parent surveys. Not enough buy in.”
Schaeffer says all 31 schools in the district have classes Monday through Friday.
“We can see the benefits of it, but on the other hand, too many of our parents in our district, probably a large majority, value that summer time,” Schaeffer said.
Arkansas state law says kids must be in school 192 days of the year. However, the School of Innovation waiver allows ALLPS to start in August and end in May, just like the majority of schools in the area. Senior Anna Grace Farrell appreciates the flexibility.
“When I’m older, I want to be a dental hygienist, but on the side I want to have an interior design business,” Farrell said. “So I like how it’s setting me up to do multiple things and just be more productive overall.”