The Mesa school board wants Superintendent Mike Cowan to draft a letter to state lawmakers to look more closely at possible large-scale budget cuts, such as temporarily decreasing the school year by five days.
The board offered direction to Cowan during a work-study session Tuesday night. Longtime member Mike Hughes said districts such as Mesa Unified are struggling with the piecemeal cuts being made — some from per-student funding, some from soft capital funding, some from other areas.
Currently, Arizona districts are required to hold 180 days of school. Other states have decreased their school days in light of budget crunches across the country. Recently, school districts in Georgia, Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa have proposed four-day-a-week schedules for next school year to help save money. Students in Hawaii saw their school year shorted by 17 days this year when staff were told to take furloughs.
Cowan said he will work with the district’s legal counsel, Tom Pickrell and have a letter ready for board approval next week.