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Havre school board decides not to adopt four-day schedule

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Havre Public Schools in north-central Montana will not shift to a four-day week.

The school board on Monday voted 5-3 in favor of keeping a five-day school week.

School board chair Curtis Smeby acknowledged that teachers are struggling, but said some aspects of the shift could use more planning and review.

“This isn’t dead in the water, it’s just, are we ready for this now?” he said.

One board member suggested forming a committee to study how to improve teacher morale.

Advocates of the four-day week say it will help attract and retain teachers in the more than 1,700-student school district and improve staff mental health. Opponents worry about student achievement and how the change could impact kids with special needs.

According to the state Office of Public Instruction, during the 2021-22 school year, 175 Montana schools are operating with a four-day week, five more schools than the prior school year.