At the monthly meeting of the Aurora R-VIII Board of Education, the board approved the calendar for the 2020-2021 school year. The calendar reflects a major district change - a four day school week.

Students in the Aurora district will attend classes beginning next school year Monday through Thursday.

Forty additional minutes will be added to the school day. Pate students will be class from 8:05 a.m. through 3:45 p.m., Robinson Elementary, Aurora Junior High and Aurora High School students will be in session from 7:50 a.m. through 3:30 p.m.

The 150 day schedule will have students completing a total of 1,089.9 hours, which is more than the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's mandatory 1,044 hours. The total Aurora students will spend in the classroom will also increase this school year's hours in session. For the 2019-2020 school year, students are scheduled to attend 1,058.8 hours. 7-12th grade students are in class even longer at the present time - 1,076.2 hours.

An additional 12 days of Professional Development is included in the calendar and requires teachers to participate in activities on Fridays.   

The board first reviewed the possibility of a four-day week during the 2016-2017 school year.  At that time, very few districts had implemented the change and the Board did not believe enough data was present regarding the initiative.  Currently, 61 school districts statewide now have four day school weeks. Thirty of those are in Southwest Missouri. In addition, 25 more district are anticipated to adopt the four day school week for the 2020-2021 school year.

Some of the factors considered by the Aurora school board in making the decision include increased student attendance, decreased student behavior referrals, which result in better engagement, increased teacher recruitment and retention, a decrease in the need for substitute teachers, and extended professional development time, which allows time to construct effective instructional activities and review student achievement data. The board also discussed concerns but determined that the benefits gained outweigh the negatives.