ROCKDALE, Texas (KXAN) — A Central Texas school district is turning to a four-day school week in an effort to retain teachers and improve student learning.

Rockdale ISD currently has half days on Wednesdays but will start a four-day schedule for students in the 2023-24 school year.

Students will attend classes Monday through Thursday, while Fridays will be a time for teachers to plan future lessons and work on professional development.

Cheyanne Miller, who is the principal of Rockdale Intermediate says she thinks the move will help attract teachers to the rural district.

”We do struggle to keep teachers and to retain teachers,” Miller said.

The TEA’s Teacher Vacancy Task Force Final Report pointed out a number of recommendations for retaining teachers. In that report, one area that was highlighted was demonstrating value for teacher time.

Cheryl Meuth, a sixth-grade math teacher and track coach at RISD, said she will now have more time to plan lessons and other tasks and not feel overwhelmed. Also, as a coach, she said her students won’t miss as many classes for Friday sporting events.

”I think it will keep teachers happier,” Meuth said. “I think teachers will want to stay in the industry.”

Lindsey Lillard is a parent in the district and said she believes her kids will be more focused and retain more information with the new schedule.

”I think the students will really benefit from the targeted instruction,” Lillard said. ”If teachers are happy, students are happy and then parents are happy.”

There has been some pushback with some parents not wanting to move to four days.

KXAN asked the district how they will accommodate parents who work on Fridays. RISD says they currently have after-school programs and are discussing possibly continuing these programs on Fridays.

”I think a lot of teachers will be excited about this and I think it will bring in new recruits,” Meuth said.