Four day school week meeting held
11/7/2013 10:01:50 AM
2/10/2016 12:58:29 PM
by Scott Cloud/Newkirk Herald Journal
Thirty-five community members attended a meeting Monday night held by the Newkirk Four-Day School Week Committee.
Monday’s meeting was held at the NHS Library.
Board members will discuss the four-day week at future meetings.
Newkirk High School science instructor and committee spokesman Chris Storm provided information with assistance from others on the committee.
The committee consists of teachers from each building, school administrators, school board member, support personnel, and parents.
Storm prefaced his presentation by saying that the presentation is, “not a sales job.”
He added, “We don’t have every answer, this is a meeting to provide information and hear your concerns.”
Storm said that 35 schools currently have a four day week and another 137 schools are considering the four day week for next year. There are 500 school districts in the state.
Area schools that have four day weeks include Woodland and Shidler.
Storm said the four day week concept was discussed in Newkirk because of education budget cuts.
"We just took a cut, there could be more cuts this year and next year,” Storm said. “This is a way to reduce the budget.”
He estimates the school can save $20,000 - $30,000 per year in the reductions of bus routes, school utilities, and substitute teachers.
In regards to student performance in a four-day week, Storm cited a Colorado study (they have had a four day week for 20 years) that shows a four day week shows no measurable (negative) effect on students academic performance. He said the research is available for community members to read.
He added that a four day week would increase the quality teaching time for students.
A projected four-day week would be from 8 a.m. - 3:45 p.m. (152 teaching days), the current school day is from 8 a.m. - 2:55 p.m. (171 days).
He also said a four day week would improve teacher/student morale, reduce teacher/student absenteeism, improve teacher retention/recruitment, and reduce time lost due to weather cancellations, etc.
Storm stressed the four day week is not a day off for teachers.
“The four day week gives teachers time to grade papers and prepare lessons,” he said. “Teachers spend a lot of time at night and on weekends doing school work. I promise you the extra day will be used to advantage.”
After Storm’s presentation, several questions were asked.
The top concern was day care opportunities in a community that has limited day care facilities.
“That is one of our top concerns,” Storm said.
“For those that have middle school or high school students, it’s not a big deal,” said Loretta Summitt. “But for those with elementary students it’s going to be hard to find daycare. And also hard to afford daycare for many people in Newkirk.”
Students missing meals on a week day was another issue discussed. Newkirk has a free and reduced meals rate of approximately 70 percent.
Storm said the community may be able to step up.
Committee chairperson Mary Truitt said that in all the schools they talked to, these concerns were all raised. She said, “We were told community filled the void.”
Bryan Tener of the First United Methodist Church said that he would like to meet with some civic leaders to see what the community can do.
"Maybe we (community) can find some creative solutions to help fill the gap,” he said.
Another concern was students that are in activities and athletics, that would make for a longer school day.
Truitt said that athletics would be placed back in the school day, if the school were to go to a four day week.
Several questions were asked how the longer school day effects elementary students, Storm said the research shows no significant difference.
Another issue was how the four day week effects support staff.
Truitt said their hours would be adjusted to the schedule.
Persons attending the meeting were asked to fill out a survey regarding the four day week.
The committee hosted a second meeting Tuesday night at NHS.