Lake Park private school implements 4-day school week

'Having that Friday works out well,' Alexa Hernandez says
Posted at 5:56 PM, Aug 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-11 19:19:46-04

LAKE PARK, Fla. — Lisa Collum, a former public school teacher, owns Coastal Middle and High School. It's a small, private school tucked into Lake Park. She said most students are on scholarships.

She said the students are getting ready to head back next week.

"As an educator, I started to see there were major shortages with teachers, lots of vacancies, teachers weren't returning," she said. "Some of the best teachers I have known for years were leaving the classroom."

That thought led her to the idea of a Monday through Thursday schedule.

"I started to think what can I do as a school owner for teacher retention? I started researching and came across a four-day school week," Collum said. "I think what we are in right now with this teacher shortage is across all boards. Public, private, charter. The district has so many teachers, they are looking for 800-plus right now, and we struggle. We are a small, private school."

Lisa Collum owner of Coastal Middle and High School.
Coastal Middle and High School owner Lisa Collum explains why she implemented the four-day school week.

They tested it out in January and it stuck. Collum said for the first time ever, all her teachers are returning.

"Great selling point, for sure," Alexa Hernandez, the lead high school teacher at Coastal, said. "I love it, especially for being a new mom."

Hernandez said teachers always bring work home.

"So, having that Friday, even if I am working," she said, "having a break from students, doing lesson plans and things of that sort, works out well."

Hernandez said she's heard talking in other private schools, but her conversations with teachers are all pretty similar.

Lead high school teacher Alexa Hernandez Coastal Middle and High School.jpg
Lead high school teacher Alexa Hernandez explains how she has benefited from a shortened school week.

"They are super jealous," she said. "They are always asking me where I am working, if they are hiring."

It was a process for Collum to implement. She said shortening the total number of days meant adding more hours to each one.

"I noticed that there is only one other school in the state of Florida that was doing this," she said. "So, it took a lot to be able to prove to the state, because there are requirements for days and hours."

Collum said she doesn't think it's a one-size fits all approach.

"I don't think it would work for everyone, especially elementary, but I think it's really good for high school because most students are working," she said. "And if they're not working, they are old enough to be able to stay at home."