The Crosby ISD school board voted 4-3 on Monday to adopt a 4-day instructional week calendar for the 2023-2024 school year. It is the largest school district to do so in Texas so far.
Like other school districts across the U.S., Crosby ISD has been struggling with teacher recruitment and retention. At the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year, the district had 40 openings for teachers. At the same time two years ago, the district had only 13 openings to fill. The district also has a shortage of bus drivers.
"Teacher burnout is real," said Philip Chapman, trustee on the Crosby School Board. "In order to truly recruit and retain more teachers, we must be bold and set the course for others to follow."
As part of the new schedule, students will attend school Monday through Thursday every week, with slightly longer school days than those in the 5-day schedule. The local YMCA has agreed to provide full-day childcare on Fridays for families who need it for $72 per month. The district also plans to participate in the Houston Food Bank's Backpack Buddy program in order to provide lunches for students who need them on Fridays.
After Monday's vote, Crosby ISD has become the 44th school district in the state to move to a 4-day school week. While the school district found majority support for the proposal, some have concerns about how the new schedule will affect marginalized populations like economically disadvantaged families and disabled students.
"In making a decision that is this important, you have to take into consideration your most at-risk students," said Heather Barrett, secretary of the Crosby ISD school board. Barrett expressed concerns that not every group of students had been given enough consideration in the proposal, and she voted against approving it. "Have we put a plan in place where I feel like we've checked every single box to not leave any child behind? I do not."
While the district found majority support among those surveyed, especially students and teachers, 41% of respondents opposed the change. Barrett said that many of the parents of students most at-risk likely did not take the survey in the first place.
School Board Trustee Karen Thomas argued that helping teachers will ultimately help all students. "If this is a way to fill in those positions where we can recruit those teachers to come here and teach our students at the high level that we want, then I think this is a route we should take."
The new schedule will go into effect at the beginning of next school year.