GOSHEN COUNTY – Most parents and district staff are in favor of moving to a four-day school week in Goshen County, according to preliminary survey results. Lincoln Elementary Principal and Four-Day Calendar Committee member Tim Williams presented an update at the Goshen County School District No. 1 board of trustees meeting Tuesday evening.
“We have 780 (electronic responses) so far,” he said, adding the total includes 515 parents and 265 of 350 staff members.
Earlier this month, the district provided an informational slideshow regarding the proposed four-day school week and link to a survey for parents and staff via social media and on its website. A paper copy of the survey is also available at the schools, although those responses were not included in Tuesday’s update.
The district has set a deadline of Friday, Feb. 16 for survey responses. However, Williams said student representatives have also expressed an interest to weigh in, and the committee plans to create and distribute a student survey in the near future, with an expected one-week deadline.
Williams said – as of Tuesday evening – 65 percent of parents who had completed the survey were in favor of a four-day school week. In addition, approximately 50 percent said they would utilize activities at schools on Fridays to assist with daycare needs; 72 percent said their children would not eat breakfast and lunch at school on Fridays if meals were offered and the four-day school week model was implemented; 65 percent of parents reported they are concerned about the amount of time teachers are not in the classroom; and 75 percent said they believe more teacher time in the classroom will increase student achievement.
Of district staff who responded, 77 percent said they are in favor of a four-day school week; 78 percent support an 8 a.m.-to-4 p.m. school day, the proposed length of days if the four-day week were implemented; 86 percent were in favor of collegial meetings on Friday mornings; and nearly 100 percent said they would support a school calendar that puts teachers in the classrooms as much as possible.
Using the four-day school week model, teachers and administrators would use Fridays for collegial meetings and professional development, instead of taking time out of class to attend these events.
“We’ve said from the beginning, this is about student achievement, not about budget,” Williams said.
Per the GCSD slideshow, the overriding goal of the Four-Day Calendar Committee is to increase student achievement district-wide.
“We believe that we can do this by ensuring teachers are in the classroom as much as possible; ensuring principals are in the building as much as possible; giving teachers the necessary time to plan and design work that will increase student achievement,” the presentation reads. “This is not intended as a cost-saving measure. However, evidence gathered through our research shows there could be as much as a 3-to-7 percent cost savings.”
A traditional vs. four-day calendar comparison is as follows:
School day: traditional: 8 a.m. to 3:35 p.m.; four-day: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Student days: traditional: 175 days; four-day: 154 days
Student hours: traditional: 1,155 hours; four-day: 1,155 hours
Teacher days: traditional: 185 days; four-day: 185 days
Teacher hours: traditional: 1,315 hours; four-day: 1,335 hours
Start date, students: traditional: Aug. 21; four-day: Aug. 20
Finish date, students: traditional: May 22; four-day: May 31
Start date, teachers: traditional: Aug. 14; four-day: Aug. 14
Finish date, teachers: traditional: May 22; four-day: May 31
Professional development/collegial hours: traditional: 42 hours; four-day: 52 hours
Building/workdays: traditional: 14 hours; four-day: 51 hours
Potential activities for students on Friday include, PRACTICE Program activities at schools, classes for high school students at Eastern Wyoming College and community education
The presentation also explores potential impacts to employees, detailed as follows:
• Paraprofessionals will lose minimal hours due to their hours being tied to student hours.
• Secretaries/maintenance: no overtime allowed, work can be done on Friday up to allowable hours.
• Food service: one day a week will be lost by some employees. Breakfast and lunch will be offered on Friday at one building. This will provide some opportunity for food service staff to make up lost hours.
• Bus drivers: loss of 21 days of route driving. May be able to raise hourly rate (salary relations issue), split activity trips amongst all who are interested, possible Friday trainings to keep CDLs current.
“We do not want to see any staff that currently receives benefits lose those benefits if at all possible. Federal guidelines may keep this from happening,” the committee said.
Staff and family surveys are posted via Survey Monkey on the www.goshen1.org website. Links will be active until the end of the day on Friday, Feb. 16.
Paper copies of this survey made available through the individual buildings must be returned to your child’s school by 2 p.m. on Friday.