More than 120 school districts in 20 states, mostly in the western region of the US, now have three-day weekends because of state budget cuts to education.

Now the Irene-Wakonda School District in southeastern South Dakota is the latest to eliminate Friday classes, adding to the 25 percent of South Dakota schools that have already adopted a four-day week.

To compensate, 30 minutes are being added to each school day and lunch breaks won’t be as long. Elementary school students will also see less time for recess and physical education classes.

Many parents are not pleased. “The kids are going to suffer,” said mom Melissa Oien. “Of course they will. They’re missing a whole day of school.”

But school superintendent Larry Johnke says the district will still teach all the required material and that even with a shortened week, the state’s minimum standard for class time will be exceeded.

“We feel they’ll get the same instruction. It’ll have to be done a little bit differently,” he said.

James Hansen, former head of South Dakota’s Education Department, disagrees and feels less schooling puts kids at a disadvantage in a global economy. “I think the students should be in school more than they are now,” he said. “The other countries are doing a far better job of making sure their students are prepared to meet the competition of the world.”

[Huffington Post]