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      Maries R-II starts four-day week

      The Maries R-II school district has started its first year with a four-day school week.

      All schools in the district will be in session Tuesday through Friday. The elementary and high schools in Belle will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The middle school in Bland will run from 7:50 a.m. to 3:50 p.m.

      Students will be in school for about the same number of hours as during the five-day school week.

      Superintendent Dr. Patrick Call said the switch comes for several reasons, including an attempt to boost attendence and cut back district costs.

      "On Mondays we don't have to heat or air condition as high or as low as we do when we're in session. We'll be saving some fuel costs, we'll be saving some maintenance costs on buses," Call said.

      The district chose Monday as the day off because most national holidays fall on that day.

      Mandy Seaver, a second grade teacher and parent at Belle Elementary, had her reservations when she first heard about the four-day week.Some of her concerns were how her kids would handle the longer days and what they would do on the extra day off.

      But now that the school year is in full swing, she likes the feel of the new week from both a teacher's and a parent's perspective.

      "We get more instruction time in, and we were able to add a keyboarding class this year with the extra time," she said.

      "My kids don't seem to notice that they got to school 45 minutes extra in a day. They're tired in the morning but that's just any school day, even from the five-day week."

      Call said most of the feedback he has received so far has been positive; parents are able to plan things like appointments and vacations without having to worry as much about a school schedule.

      However, there has been some negative feedback as well.

      "They want a different day, is one thing I've heard. The other part is they feel that their child is getting home too late in the evening," Call said.

      Both Call and Seaver said it's important for parents to have patience during the transition. The district is still working out some kinks, but the system is getting smoother each day.

      The district is committed to the new school week for one year. During the year they will ask for input and monitor student achievement to decide whether or not to continue the four-day week in the future.

      The district has a daycare available for elementary school students on Mondays for $14 per day.