GROVE CITY -- Starting this fall, students in the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District will be going to school just four days a week under a plan approved by the state Department of Education.
ACGC Superintendent Sherri Broderius said she was notified Monday that the district had received the state's blessing for a three-year period.
Students will go to school Tuesday through Friday. The school day will run from about 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"It's not going to be an easier way of working, it's going to be a different way of working," said Broderius.
The change is expected to save ACGC about $64,000 each year, mostly in reduced transportation costs.
News of the change was kept under wraps until Wednesday when parents received letters either in the mail or in the backpacks of their children.
"This is an exciting adventure for all of us and one that we hope will increase your child's educational opportunities," wrote Broderius in the letter. "We will be keeping track of academics, staff development and other statistics throughout the year."
Teachers were told Wednesday morning during a staff briefing.
"They clapped at the announcement," Broderius said.
When the idea for a four-day week was first floated this winter, the school board held community meetings. Large crowds peppered the administration with questions and sent a fairly unified message of support to try the new schedule.
Jeanna Lilleberg, a school board member and parent of four children who attend ACGC, said "a lot of people are excited" about the change -- not only in the ACGC School District but surrounding communities. She said others will be watching ACGC to see how the new schedule works.
After ACGC submitted its application, the state had requested additional information about the elementary school schedule and how classroom enrichment and reinforcement of curriculum would be implemented.
"This has been a very interesting process, and I'm excited about this possibility," Broderius said. "We're going to be going into this with our eyes wide open and looking for opportunities to maximize educational opportunities for the kids."
ACGC must submit annual reviews to the state.
In her letter to ACGC, Education Commissioner Alice Seagren said the district will need to provide evidence that the four-day school week "led to meaningful gains in academic achievement, staff development, cost savings and other factors described in your district's original application."
The district can discontinue the four-day schedule at any time if problems arise. If the district wants to continue past 2013, a new application must be submitted.