DIME BOX, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - One school district in Texas is looking at changing up their school week with “flex Mondays.”
Dime Box, Texas is a small town with a general store, a grocery store, bank, and a school district of about 170 students Pre-K through 12 on one campus.
"I know each and every one of the kids and their families and I know their grandparents," said Nicholas West, a Dime Box graduate and now superintendent of the district.
West has a bold idea for the district where he once studied.
"The easiest way to say it is it’s a ‘flex 4-day week’ that you have the one day that is not a normal school day. Our normal school day is now Tuesday through Friday," West said.
In turn the days will be a little longer to meet the state's requirements of how much schooling students need per year.
"We're getting a broad amount of support for a 7:45 to 3:50 right now," West said.
West says other school districts have tried the idea on Fridays, but after crunching the numbers, Mondays made more sense.
"So many holidays are Mondays. Labor Day, Columbus Day, President's Day, Martin Luther King Day, those all fall on Monday so what do you do? Take that Monday and that Friday off? How do you make that work? So by putting all of our days off on Mondays it's either a holiday and everybody's off or it’s a flex Monday and the school's open," West said.
To be clear, the school will still be open on Mondays.
"The main concern that I hear is 'what about daycare?' But the school's open," he said.
West says there are 25 'flex Mondays.' Students can be there every Monday if they want to be or they can come to school on no Mondays. But they might want to come for a field trip, which the district could take more of with this schedule.
"It wouldn't be too hard for us if we have 100 kids on our campus on a Monday to put them in 2 or 3 buses and head to the Capitol," West said.
Teachers will get a slice of this pie as well. They will get eight Mondays off and possibly more depending on how many students actually show up on the flex Mondays.
"Also too in a lot of the different places that they've went to this, they've actually seen huge academic benefits, their scores on tests, the outcomes of their students have actually changed and went up," West said.
Dime Box is a small, charming Texas town and West points out it makes it a perfect place to try something like this as opposed to a bigger school district.
"It allows us to use all the district staff. If you were in a larger district you could do it but I think it would take a lot more planning in how you would structure your staff on that Monday," West said.
This Thursday the school board will take the final step in getting state approval and the new schedule will start this fall. West realizes Texas school districts are watching and he's hoping this will be a success.
"If it doesn't then everybody will know either you better do it much differently than the way Dime Box did it or 'man look at what they're doing and man we need to do something like that too,'" West said.
West points out if it's not a success, if it is a mess, the state will allow them to change things up mid-year if they want to, but the district is not expecting that to happen.
The superintendent says they're hoping to learn a little bit and make improvements.