5 x 8 = 40, and 4 x 10 = 40. Therefore, 5 x 8 = 4 x 10… except that five eight-hour days are more costly to operate than four ten-hour days.
The Y-12 National Security Complex implemented this schedule for salaried employees (hourly employees turned it down) a few years ago, in an effort to reduce operating costs while boosting productivity. A nice side effect is that employees save fuel, reducing their commute by 20%. The three-day weekends are pretty sweet, too. An article in the Tennessean this morning indicates that local governments and community colleges around the country are now exploring this possibility.
A few school systems nationwide have also made this transition, beginning in Southwestern states where the population density is low and students must travel great distances to school each day.
In Colorado, where state law has allowed the abbreviated week since 1980, more than a third of school districts have switched to a four-day schedule. The savings include transportation costs (reduced by 20%), utilities, and food service.
The positives: cost savings (energy, food, fuel), improved attendance rates, longer periods of uninterrupted learning time
The negatives: long-day burnout, missing a day due to illness is a 20% greater learning loss
Note that I didn’t list child care as either a negative or a positive; for parents working a 5-day week, it does create a need. On the other hand, parents who work have often found (in the systems that have already switched) that it’s easier to find someone to keep their children for one whole day, than for a few hours after work every day.
Such a radical idea won’t work if it’s top-down, though. It would have to be something with broad parental support, and careful consideration of unintended consequences. But, it’s worth thinking and talking about.