This segment originally aired Oct. 21, 2016, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.
One third of all Oklahoma school districts are now operating on a four-day schedule.
Oklahoma has cut education funding per student more than any other state over the last 8 years. In the past, Oklahoma has compensated for funding cuts with oil revenue, but oil prices have declined in recent years.
“Teachers have been reluctant,” principal Nathan Gray told VICE News correspondent Roberto Ferdman. “You’re now forced to cover all the curriculum, all the testing that’s required by the state, in four days.”
In Oklahoma’s Noble school district, all schools are closed on Fridays to save money, one principal oversees two elementary schools to avoid hiring a second administrator, and the district superintendent also works bus duty.
Gray says a four-day school week isn’t what anyone wanted, but it was the only way to cope with the cuts. “This was our best way to survive.”