School districts consider shorter school days for several reasons, including saving money and providing students the ability to participate in more extracurricular activities. Shortening the school day by even an hour or two can allow a district to save dramatically on its utility costs.
Additional costs savings from a shorter day include less money paid to part-time workers to cover hours needed to support faculty and staff. In some cases, districts may also be able to generate revenue by using the time that school isn't in session to rent the space to local organizations.
Despite criticisms that a shorter school day limits classroom instruction, more free time in the afternoon enables students to participate in extracurricular activities that strengthen the overall educational experience. School sports teams can start practices earlier, thus allowing students to finish and get home at a more reasonable time. Also students who work part-time jobs have greater ability to still engage in after-school activities while working part time. Some low-income families rely on the income generated by older students to help support the family. Students could also spend the extra time in the afternoons to participate in community-service programs. Internships and advanced educational training programs are other possibilities for the extra time provided by a shorter day.