Brighton-based School District 27J is likely to become the first district in the Denver metro area to move to a four-day school week.
The announcement comes after voters turned down a request this November for more local taxes, the latest in a string of defeats for the fast-growing district north of Denver.
Brighton is hardly the first district in Colorado or the country to consider taking this step, but it would be the largest and most urban. More than 100 districts in states including Wyoming, Florida, and Montana have already gone to a four-day school week. According to the Colorado Department of Education, 87 districts in Colorado have four-day school weeks, but until recently, the phenomenon was confined to rural districts.
Right now, the Garfield Re-2 School District in western Colorado, where 4,898 students are enrolled, is the largest district in the state with a short week. In contrast, the Brighton school district has more than 17,800 students, with 37 percent of those qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch. The district has grown rapidly as new housing developments pop up, often more affordable than those closer to Denver.
Changing the school calendar to four-day weeks is expected to save the district $1 million in the first year, but it’s not only a financial consideration. It’s also a way to try to retain teachers who won’t be getting the raises they would have if the tax increase had passed.
“The primary benefit is to attract and retain teachers,” said Chris Fiedler, superintendent of the Brighton-based School District 27J.