INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The Independence School Board voted Tuesday night to approve a 4-day school week starting next school year.

It is the largest district in the state to make that move, according to ISD Superintendent Dale Herl.

More than 140 districts in Missouri follow a 4-day learning week model, according to Missouri State University. But most of these districts are small or rural.

“Our number one priority is always going to be the education and safety of our kids and we’re looking for ways in a time where you are seeing people leave the profession of teaching, we’re looking for ways to be innovative,” said Megan Murphy, the Independence District Spokesperson.

Herl said ISD is pushing the system change to retain and hire staff.

“We think this is a way to ensure that we have our very best people,” Herl said.

“We’ve already seen a 40% increase in the number of teacher applications so overall staff more than 30% increase in applications that’s not normal for this time of year,” Murphy said.

Parent of two current students Beckie Fite appreciates ISD paving a new way, but she wasn’t always on board with the big change.

“At first I thought it would just be so difficult,” Fite said. “It’s very complicated, it just seems like too big of an elephant to eat even one bite at a time.”

Students next school year will now attend class Tuesday-Friday. Herl said there’s no lost instruction time.

Teachers will have off three Mondays. Then, one day will be a workday or professional development day.

A common concern among parents is where to take their child on Mondays, especially the little ones.

Brandy Pruente who has three kids in the independence school district worries the cost for the entire year will be expensive.

“If I want to use the district services, I’m going to spend like $1,400 putting them in childcare,” Pruente said

“That is not an arcuate number – we have balanced the cost of increase of childcare but we’ve also extend the time and prorated the rates to try and make it as even as we possibly can,” Murphy said.

Herl said the district will provide childcare, and preparing that plan from now to the 23-24 school year would also be the districts biggest challenge.

“We would also have enrichment activities for those students, if they choose to come,” Herl said. “It would include everything from field trips to tutoring and for our high school students it would be an available of college classes as well.”

After more thought and discussion, Fite flipped to the “yes camp”. But above all she wants the students to come first.

“The kids first, the staff second and then the parents figure it out,” Fite said. “As a parent I’m good with that.”

The district sent out the below statement to families after the vote: 

Good evening, 

The Independence School District will move to a four-day instructional week beginning in the 2023-2024 school year.  

Please continue to use our online Four Day Instructional Week Information Center for information as district leadership works on the continued planning and implementation of next steps. 

Our priority is the safety and education of ISD students, and we appreciate our families, staff, and community groups who partner with us in this goal. Thank you for all you do for the students of the Independence School District.