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Independence schools leader upbeat on 4-day weeks. Some teachers and parents have doubts

Two men sit at a large, wooden commission desk. Between them is a large sign on the wall that reads "ISD, Inspiring Greatness, Independence School Board."
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Independence School Superintendent Dale Herl and School Board President Eric Knipp listen to public comments before the board voted to implement a four-day school week.

Teachers, families and students in Missouri's Independence School District are adjusting to a four-day school week this year. Superintendent Dr. Dale Herl said data shows benefits to the shorter school week, but opinions from parents and staff are mixed.

In an effort to recruit and retain more teachers, Independence School District transitioned to a four-day school week, making it the largest district in Missouri to adopt the shorter school schedule.

The change has already achieved its primary goal, Superintendent Dr. Dale Herl told Up To Date.

"Applications are up more than 360%," Herl said. "We've got every classroom filled in the Independence School District."

Ahead of Up To Date's interview with the superintendent, KCUR asked listeners within the district to share by text line how they feel about the newly implemented four-day school week.

Reactions from parents and caregivers were mixed. Some families were frustrated by an inconsistent schedule, student exhaustion from longer school days, and not enough supports and activities when students are out of school. Other were enthusiastic about the transition, saying the extra day out of school is good for students' mental health and time to catch up on homework.

"It's gone exceptionally well," Herl said. "Certainly whenever you have this sort of large systemic change there's things that we want to tweak, and we'll do that."

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
As a producer for Up To Date, my goal is to inform our audience by curating interesting and important conversations with reliable sources and individuals directly affected by a topic or issue. I strive for our program to be a place that hosts impactful conversations, providing our audience with greater knowledge, intrigue, compassion and entertainment. Contact me at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz.
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