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Valley school district moving to 4-day workweek

The new shift, with Fridays off, will begin next school year 2023-24.

PHOENIX — Four is better than five.

That’s what the Cartwright School District believes is best for its students and staff when it comes to workdays.

Starting in the 2023-24 school year, all school staff will work four days a week, including teachers, custodians, administrators, and bus drivers.

“We want, not just our teachers, but all of our employees to come to work to be energized because when they’re happy and energized and well, then we give the best education to our scholars,” said Superintendent LeeAnn Aguilar Lawlor.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the district implemented a four-day school week for its 14,000 students at 19 schools, giving students Fridays off.

That change was not only favored by parents through surveys but also improved attendance to 93% this school year, Lawlor said.

That got them thinking.

“Why not do a four-day workweek for our employees, for our staff, for their mental wellbeing, for their health and wellness,” the superintendent added.

The district put together a four-day implementation task force and devised a plan that Lawlor said: “Everyone agreed on.”

For Cristian Rapeta, a fifth-grade teacher at Davidson Elementary School, the move is welcomed the news.

“It will allow me to focus on my family and my home life,” Rapeta, who has been teaching at the district for 16 years, said. “Teaching is very draining at times, and this will allow me to keep my cup full to help the kids and be my best self.”

The district believes having a three-day weekend will help provide a better quality of education for students, decrease stress for all, and allow students and staff to spend more time with their loved ones.

“We also feel like they work so hard and do so much for our students and their families that this is something that they need to start getting used to taking care of themselves,” Lawlor said.

The superintendent said the move would also benefit the district financially in the long run.

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