In light of a new Texas state law that will measure school years in minutes rather than days to offer more flexibility in setting calendars, one of Texas' smallest school districts is set to make history this fall with four-day school weeks. Olfen Independent School District in Rowena, TX is a K-through-eighth grade school that has 56 students with only one student actually within the district boundary.

“This is my seventh year here, and this has always been an issue with us because we are, in some cases, up to 35 miles away from a student’s home,” said social studies, Spanish and special education teacher Ramon Cavazos.

On January 12, the Olfen School Board unanimously voted in favor of the change for the 2016-17 school year. The new and approved schedule includes four required instructional days plus an optional day on Friday. Students who don't receive passing grades on progress reports are required to attend school on Fridays to receive tutoring, while students with passing marks have the option to stay home. There will be a few weeks out of the year where five days are scheduled as mandatory and the typical school day will last 25 minutes longer than before.

Olfen Superintendent Gabriel Zamora explained that Fridays will offer tutoring in the morning followed by activities such as pottery, tumbling and Karate in the afternoons.

We think this is going to be something great for our students and something that can also benefit a lot of parents out there. I just saw the possibility, once the law was passed and everything. I never thought I would be in the district that had the right circumstances.

The law requires school districts to have at least 75,600 minutes of instruction per year. The new Olfen ISD calendar will total more than 77,000 minutes.

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