First in Ohio: Butler Tech considering four days in class, one day interning in work world

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Butler Tech has added three new campuses in the past 18 months.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Butler Tech high school students would be the first in Ohio and among few nationwide to spend Fridays at local industries instead of classrooms under a proposal by school officials.

The plan would impact more than a thousand Butler County-area students and dozens of local firms, the Journal-News has learned.

The scheduling change, which would take effect next school year, is the latest aggressive move by the local career school system to expand the depth of its local industry ties to produce more employable high school graduates.

ExploreMORE: 100 job offers for 28 students from Butler Tech has US senator praising the school

Under the proposal, Butler Tech sophomores, juniors and seniors would attend regular classes Monday through Thursday, but for 14 consecutive weeks their Fridays would be spent job-shadowing or working internships at local companies in their career fields of study.

“The Fifth Day Experience will allow our students to personalize their learning experience in a variety of ways,” said Butler Tech Superintendent Jon Graft.

“We believe that flexibility fosters opportunity and personalized learning extending beyond the classroom.”

Emily Passias, director of Career-Technical Education at the Ohio Department of Education, said she knows of no other county-wide, career school system in the state trying such a scheduling experiment.

“I’m excited to see Butler Tech find new and creative ways to serve students and the community,” Passias said. “We’ve been encouraging schools to find creative solutions to allow students to learn in new ways including work-based learning, internships, apprenticeships, and other innovative models. This schedule change allows Butler Tech students to take advantage of new and exciting opportunities through their programs.”

ExploreMORE: Butler Tech officials pushing historic, rapid expansion of its schools, programs

Nationwide, four-day school weeks are rare and largely done by rural districts as a cost-saving move. According to a 2018 national survey of the Education Commission of the States, approximately 560 school districts in 25 states have one or more schools on a four-day schedule. More than half of these districts are located in four states, Colorado, Montana, Oklahoma and Oregon, where a significant portion of districts have opted into the four-day week.

The plan would make 1,250 students eligible to participate and would start in February 2020. The governing board of Butler Tech will consider it at its next meeting on Tuesday.

Students would receive the same number of instructional credits as under the district’s current schedule.

Michelle Townsend has two daughters at Butler Tech, and the Madison Schools parent likes the idea of students spending a school day at a company learning first-hand about their career paths.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for the kids to be able to get a foot in the door in (the) work world,” Townsend said.

Amy Meyer, vice president of corporate development for the aviation tool manufacturer Rhinestahl Corporation in Mason, applauded both the idea and Butler Tech’s initiative in exploring the option.

“We are thrilled about it,” said Meyer, whose company hosted U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s round table discussion last week with Butler Tech officials and representatives from numerous area industries. “To have students here the entire day will make it a springboard opportunity for them.”

ExploreMORE: Butler Tech leader praised as motor behind historic expansion 

Butler Tech Board of Education President Michael Berding said he can’t predict how fellow members will vote on the plan but suspects most will find it’s worthwhile.

“This new idea will prepare students for life after high school by giving them an extra day each week to gain experience in the workforce and learn independently,” Berding said.

In Other News