Nonprofit Newswire | Deficits Cause Widespread School Closings

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March 8, 2010; Wall Street Journal | Calling all parents—and nonprofits! The Wall Street Journal reports that approximately 100 school districts in 17 states are lopping a day off their five-day weeks in order to close budget deficits and prevent teacher layoffs. The lost school day time is to be made up by lengthening the hours of the remaining four classroom days. Because they get the same amount of hours over four days of work as they did over five, teachers don’t lose pay, but bus drivers and cafeteria workers do, suffering cuts as high as 20% in their pay. So the “phenomenal savings” that some districts attribute to the shorter school weeks come out of the paychecks of the lowest paid school district employees. People are debating the educational effect of four-day weeks over five (or perhaps three-day weekends over two), but there is another issue involved, and that’s the impact on parents who suddenly have an extra day of child care to figure out. What about parents who work 5 days a week and anticipate that their kids will be in school those days? In Georgia, nonprofits and churches are gearing up new day care and tutoring programs—with appropriate charges—for parents to send their kids to on that now unprogrammed fifth weekday. Given how difficult it is for many child care providers to survive right now, state legislators are going to have to be prepared to ante up new funds for nonprofits if they expect nonprofits to provide programs that help parents work and kids keep up with schoolwork on that lost school day.—Rick Cohen