CHICAGO
05/23/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Illinois Schools Could Turn To Four-Day Week To Save Money

In a desperate attempt to cut costs, some Illinois schools may only keep their doors open four days a week next year.

The State House voted overwhelmingly to pass a bill that would allow local school districts to opt for the four-day week. The measure was carried by a vote of 81-21, and now heads to the Senate, according to the Peoria Journal-Star.

Students would still have to receive the state-required number of instructional hours in a school year, WGN-TV explains. Those hours would be made up either in longer days or shorter summer vacations.

Much of the savings from a shorter week would come from fuel and utility costs. In particular, the bill's sponsor, Rep. Bill Black (R-Danville), told the Journal-Star that many rural districts are struggling with busing costs. Students in these districts live very far from school, and far from one another. One fewer day of busing would mean big savings for these small-budget districts.

But many Chicago Democrats opposed the legislation. One of them, Rep. Monique Davis, told the Chicago Tribune: "It is tragic when we try to balance the budget of the state of Illinois on the backs of our babies."

Another, Rep. Mary Flowers, worried that a four-day week would jeopardize the students because their districts would have a bad reputation. From the Journal-Star: "While we are trying to save money off of the backs of our children, we are also placing them in jeopardy because a lot of people would know that these particular school districts are on a four-day week."

Still, as the state legislature looks for answers to a staggering budget crisis, the four-day school week is on to the Senate, and may be in many Illinois children's futures.