The Lawrence County Board of Education is studying the feasibility of switching to a four-day school week.

If it did, the district would hope to reap big savings on transportation and other expenses in the far-flung, mostly rural district.

Meanwhile, a tiny church-based school in Boyd County has decided to make the change this fall.

Besides the big-ticket expense of buses, the shorter week would save money on utilities, food service, overtime, substitutes and insurance, said Lawrence board member James See.

The district doesn’t have a firm plan yet — “we’re still fact-finding” — but would be likely to eliminate Mondays and lengthen the remaining days to comply with minimum state requirements for instructional hours, See said.

However, five-day weeks might be retained during the spring run-up to state accountability testing, he said.

Officials from the Webster County district, which went to the four-day week in the 2003-04 school year, have briefed the Lawrence board on its approach, See said.

Webster saved more than $153,000 in the first year, according to information on the district’s Web site.

The schedule maintained compliance with the minimum 1,050 instructional hours for students; teacher contracts were maintained at 185 days, which included using Mondays for planning and training.

Webster also saw attendance and test score increases.

Four-day weeks will be a fact this fall at Calvary Christian School, which is quartered in Grassland Community Church on Bear Creek, said director Denise Wallace.

The change will save the school some money, mostly through utilities, Wallace said. Calvary doesn’t have buses, but families of the 50-plus students will save gas money.

Calvary isn’t bound by state instructional requirements but does adhere to them. It will lengthen the school day by 45 minutes to shoehorn in enough hours to meet the minimum, Wallace said.

The last 45 minutes will be devoted to art, music, drama and other humanities-related subjects.

Calvary also studied Webster’s blueprint to develop its own plan. “For us, this fits the bill pretty well.”

Lawrence has conducted a number of public forums, one of them set for Thursday night at Blaine Elementary. Some parents have been concerned about child care, See said.

The district is exploring day care options, both through established day care centers and the possibility of training high school students in child supervision and first aid.

One other district in Kentucky, Jenkins Independent in Letcher County near the Virginia state line, has a four-day week. Jenkins modeled its schedule after Webster’s.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or at (606) 326-2652.

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