The district saves $50,000 to $70,000 a year thanks to its schedule, Creal said, with the bulk of that coming from transportation costs.
Also in southwestern South Dakota is the Wall School District, which switched to a four-day schedule three years ago and does not use buses at all. But it still has transportation costs.
The district has 257 students spread out over 1,320 square miles — more than half the size of Rhode Island. Instead of buses, the district now reimburses parents for driving their kids to school, according to superintendent Dennis Rieckman.
"We have some ranches that are 30 to 40 miles out one way," Rieckman said. "It isn't feasible really to have bus routes, so we pay the mileage."
Rieckman said the four-day week also gives parents and families more time do things together and leads to fewer student absences.
The nearest place for health care or big shopping, Rieckman said, is Rapid City, about 50 miles away. If a student needs to see a doctor, parents can now schedule appointments for Friday instead of having children miss out on a day of school.
"It just takes a while to get anywhere. You just don't hop in your pickup and drive into town to do anything. People have to plan out things first," he said. "You don't just get in your vehicle and run down to the local Wal-Mart."