Hugh Pickens writes "As schools return to session in South Dakota, more than one-fourth of students in the state will only be in class from Monday through Thursday as budget constraints lead school districts to hack off a day from the school week. Larry Johnke, superintendant of the Irene-Wakonda school district, says the change will save his schools more than $50,000 per year. In order to make up for the missing day, schools will add 30 minutes to each of the other four days and shorten the daily lunch break. 'In this financial crisis, we wanted to maintain our core content and vocational program, so we were forced to do this,' says Johnke. Experts say research is scant on the effect of a four-day school week on student performance, but many of the 120 districts that have the shortened schedule nationwide say they've seen students who are less tired and more focused, which has helped raise test scores and attendance. Others say that not only did they fail to save a substantial amount of money by being off an extra day, they also saw students struggle because they weren't in class enough and didn't have enough contact with teachers."