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|Parish schools eye four-day week|
Rising gas prices may cause the Ouachita Parish School Board to consider going to a four-day school week.
The Caldwell Parish School Board recently approved a measure to switch to a four-day school week beginning next school year.
Ouachita Parish Schools Superintendent Dr. Bob Webber said Tuesday that a four-day school week is an option for the parish school system, depending on the direction fuel costs take.
Last year, the parish school system spent $529,043 from its general fund for fuel. This year, the school board has spent $709,635.
Around April of this year, as gas prices reached all-time highs, the school system began paying about $25,000 per week for fuel. Last year around this time, the school system paid a little more than $15,000 per week for fuel.
Richie Garrett, business manager for parish schools, said if gas prices continue to rise, he expects next year the amount spent on gas could surpass $800,000.
"We might have to consider this in the future," Webber said, referring to parish schools moving to a four-day week.
"Certainly it would save money," Webber continued. "There's no doubt about that. We would save on the fuel for transportation if we went to a four-day week. We would save on cost to heat and cool buildings, and save on meals. It would save money, but I'm not certain it would be in the best interest to the students as far as instruction."
Webber said parish schools saved some $80,000 on its heating and cooling costs by utilizing four-day weeks during summer school. School system officials estimate that instituting a four-day week in the fall and spring instruction periods could save about $2,000 per day on utility costs.
"It would be a substantial savings, and it's something we may have to look into," Webber said. "It's something we're going to study, but we're not ready to make that change at this point. It essentially depends on what happens with fuel costs and if prices continue to rise."
"I think it would be a have-to situation before we go to it," Webber added.
He said if school officials decide to shorten the school week, they will seek input from parents and school system employees.