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Anna ISD hopeful 4-day week helps with student achievement, teacher retention

"We really believe the level of education we are going to provide will supersede their concerns over time," said Anna ISD Superintendent Michael Comeaux said.

ANNA, Texas — The Anna Independent School District is now one of the largest school districts in North Texas to experiment with a four-day school week.

Classes will be scheduled from Monday to Thursday and also includes Friday "Boot Camp" days for students needing extra instruction for state testing.

"You're either the leader or the follower. If you're the follower you spend two or three years trying to catch up what other people do," said Anna ISD Superintendent Michael Comeaux. "The main focus has got to be the success of the kids."

This fast-growing district has been talking about the four-day week for nearly two years. The board unanimously decided to move to the model after undertaking a series of studies and surveys. 

The district told WFAA that surveys of the plan returned from parents indicated a 72% approval of the plan and 87% approval from educators 

It's a big move for the smaller district with an enrollment of over 5,000 students. It certainly has come with some detractors on social media who say the plan will adversely affect families with "working parents" and "low income" families. 

The district said that the public had ample opportunities to share their opinions on the matter in December and January.

"We really believe the level of education we are going to provide will supersede their concerns over time," said Comeaux.

The Monday-Thursday schedule does mean families will have to make some decisions about Fridays, especially families who have working parents. The superintendent told WFAA that this is the reason the district moved quickly to make a decision in order to give families enough time to plan before the August start time.

"Parents have been calling last week. Yesterday, a lot of parents were anxious about where the kids will go," said Rachael Gadi, who is with AnnaKids Academy, a local daycare center. Gadi said she already has a waiting list for Fridays.

The district said that it has had conversations with the YMCA to offer day care services on Fridays for families interested in service. WFAA reached out to the YMCA and is awaiting a response.

For Comeaux, the other hope is this plan will attract and retain educators who want a more flexible schedule. The superintendent said educators rarely ever have the time to schedule appointments and the like, which results in most taking Fridays off.

"I've got to have the highest quality staff members I can attract and retain and we believe this is one way," the superintendent said.

The district said it will add about 35 minutes to each day and a full extra week on the backend. 

Students like junior Karleigh Redwine don't know how to feel yet but said a free Friday could help.

"I have a job already so I will be able to work more than I already do," said Redwine, who balances school, sports and work.

The superintendent told WFAA that the three-year pilot program was never about cost-cutting. Comeaux said the district will re-evaluate if the model works by seeing if test scores remain high and if more teachers are retained.

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