South Dakota schools cut costs with 4-day week

By CHET BROKAW | August 21, 2011 | 1:25 PM EDT

IRENE, S.D. (AP) — When the nearly 300 students in one South Dakota school district went back to school this week, a lot of old friends, teachers and familiar routines were awaiting them. But one thing is missing: Friday classes.

The Irene-Wakonda district is among the latest in a wave of schools going to four-day weeks to save money amid state budget cuts. Superintendent Larry Johnke (JOHN'-kee) says he expects to save $50,000, enough to keep a vocational education program from being scrapped.

The schools say there's no drop-off in educational achievement, but some parents are concerned.

Experts say there's no good research yet on the four-day week. But they point out that it runs counter to another education trend — lengthening the school year.