A four day school week could soon be coming to the Elsberry R-II School District.
In October of faculty survey was completed asking one simple question ‘I am in favor of a four day week’? The results: 62.2% Strongly Agree; 9.6% Strongly Disagree and 28% Neutral.
With that information in hand a presentation was made to the Elsberry School Board members at their monthly meeting on Nov. 13. The board then agreed they needed input from the community and that began on Monday night with a first of two meetings inviting the community to learn about a four day school week and provide comments and questions.
What would a four day school week look like?
Elsberry Superintendent Dr. Tim Reller provided a presentation on what the board’s thoughts are on a four day school week.
• School would start two weeks before Labor Day and end before Memorial Day. Students would go from Tuesday through Friday, with Mondays off, which could be used for potential snow days.
• School days would be extended by 51 minutes, which means they would start approximately 20 minutes earlier and end 30 minutes later.
• High School and Middle School classes would be 55 minutes instead of the current 48 minutes.
• Students would go 148 days compared to the current 174 days, however the instructional hours would still be 1,080, which is the current number of hours.
• No early release Wednesday as the Professional Development for Staff would be done one Monday out of the month.
• There would be few if any early dismissal days.
“We have modeled this very similar to other schools in our area,” said Dr. Reller. “We have talked with those schools and feel if this is the boards decision, this would be the best model.”
Elsberry has six schools in close proximity that currently have a four day school week: Clopton, Warrenton, Montgomery County, Wellsville, Community R-6 and North Callaway.
Why consider a four day school week?
Initially around the country the four day school week was created to save money for small schools that didn’t have the tax revenue, however, according to Dr. Reller that has not been the case recently and wouldn’t be the mindset of his school.
“The way many of those schools saved money was by not only cutting days, but by cutting pay and also cutting hours,” said Dr. Reller. “The board as discussed this and is not interested in cutting pay.”
What they are interested in is retaining qualified teachers and recruitment of qualified teachers.
Currently less than 50% of teaching staff live in Elsberry and the fact that Elsberry Schools are unable to compete in salary with larger schools makes it very difficult to find and keep teachers.
“We have seen that many teachers work here for a couple years and then move on to larger schools that pay more,” said Dr. Reller. “The idea behind the four day work week would be a benefit and an enticement to work her and stay here.”
What type of effect does a four day school week have on students?
According to Dr. Reller there really isn’t much in the way of scientific data to show how this effects students.
The one thing he has seen is that those schools who not only cut out a day, but also cut the hours, have seen a drop in student performance. On the other hand, those schools that cut the day but keep the instructional hours the same has seen very little change in testing scores.
“There is pros and cons to this decision,” said Dr. Reller. “That it why the board and I wanted to get the opinion of the parents and community.”
As one parent stated Monday night, “ultimately we all want what’s best for the students and the teachers and it may mean some sacrifices for our children.”
Dr. Reller stated “I couldn’t agree more.”
A second meeting will be held on Dec. 11 at 6 p.m. to give the same presentation and answer any other questions and listen to comments.
From there the board will be sending home a survey to parents with the hopes of making a decision for the 2020-2021 school schedule in early 2020.
(In next week’s edition we will be talking about pro’s vs con’s of a four day school week and some of the concerns voiced at Monday’s meeting)