Four small school districts have switched to a four-day school week. Several more are seriously considering the four-day switch. Cook County Schools is one of those. WTIPs Jay Andersen has this update on where ISD166 stands on the four-day issue.
The ISD166 School Board is ready to go to the public with a discussion about switching to a 4-day school week, that according to Cook County School Superintendent Beth Schwarz.
Schwarz: I know a lot of folks out there have been wondering what’s going on, and as a staff and as a school district we wanted to be prepared before going to the public with information. No decision has been made on the 4-day week, we’re at a point where we are ready to start gathering input.
Four 4-day week meetings are scheduled in May where the board can get community input. Schwarz said the board will share their thoughts on the start and end time of the school day, possible calendar and schedules as well as instructional time.
Schwarz: One of the exciting things about a 4-day week, particularly at the secondary level, is the amount of instructional time we actually pick up on a 4-day week. We really want to just sit back and listen, gather information from the public. We hope that people come to the meetings with an open mind and really ready to discuss what we could do if we need to go to a 4-day week.
The meetings will be spread throughout the county. On May 10, a session will be held up the Gunflint Trail. On May 13 a meeting will be held at the West End and on May 18 on the East End. A Grand Marais session will be held on May 20. Exact locations are still being worked out. Schwarz said at this point the board is trying to keep an open mind on switching to a 4-day week.
Schwarz: Folks are wondering, “Well, how do our teachers feel about the 4-day week?” And, again, we’re all trying to keep a very open mind as to how this impacts the public. We want this to be a decision that folks are comfortable with, and so, the decision when I went to the union and said, “OK, where are we at?” and they said, “We are ready to go to the public for input.” We want to continue the investigation, but again, I want to stress that nobody here at the district is at a point where we’re saying “Oh, we have to go to the 4-day week.”
Schwarz said there a many positive aspects to the 4-day scenario she and the board want to make the public aware of as well as hear ideas from people at the meetings. She also acknowledges there are community concerns as well.
Schwarz: I know that some folks are wondering, “oh, that day off. Are we going to have an increase in student delinquency or juvenile delinquency?” That’s just an example of one question which we have spent some time looking into. In the research material, there’s been no indication of any increase in juvenile delinquency on the 4-day week program. I have talked with area superintendents that have been on the 4-week, and again the four school districts are Warroad, Blackduck, Ogilvie and M.A.C.C.R.A.Y. At this time, nobody is reporting any sort of increase in juvenile delinquency.
Other concerns include the difficulty of additional daycare when both parents are working, length of the day and length of bus rides especially for younger students.
Schwarz said all along the board has been balancing the financial benefits of a 4-day week with the apparent success of that schedule with respect to academic achievement of students attending other 4-day schools.
Jay Andersen, WTIP news.