(FCSD1 Board of Education checks their schedules for a visit to Baldwin Creek Elementary School. Joshua Scheer photo)
(Lander, Wyo.) – The Fremont County School District 1 Board of Education learned this morning that Lander Valley High School teachers missed, on average, 19.2 days of school last year.
Based on a four-week month, with five days of school each week, the teachers and certified staff were out of the classroom on average of almost a month of school each during the 2012-13 school year.
In total, LVHS certified staff was not in the classroom for 907 days. Of those days, 166 were for coaching, 23 were for bereavement, 295 certified leave, 272 certified sick, 68 professional development and 83 other professional leave.
LVHS had the highest absences, followed by Lander Middle School with 594 days, North Elementary with 380, Baldwin Creek Elementary with 371, Gannett Peak Elementary School with 332 and Pathfinder High School with 81. Jeffrey City had three.
The numbers were presented to the board, along with other data, as part of an ongoing study about the possibility of switching to four-day school weeks or year-round school.
Districtwide, Fridays had the highest amount of absences with 821 days. Wednesday had the least with 392. In all, absences were down by more than 200 days from the year before.
There was no data presented to compare these days outside of the classrooms to other similarly sized districts.
Several of the board members simply called the data “interesting.”
Chairman Brett Berg said the fact that Fridays were the most missed day, to him, seems like an argument in favor of a four-day week. Trustee Joe Palladino said if they went to four-day weeks, they risk making Thursdays the new Fridays.
“The average per individual seems a little high to me,” Trustee Bruce Palmer said.
Trustee Teresa Nirider, who joined the meeting via phone, said later in the discussion,” I think the data shows we have some problems one way or another. We have to do something to improve the attendance rates.”
Superintendent Mike Bowman said these numbers also include teachers who took significant time off for health issues and newborns.
A small amount of data was presented regarding student absences at LVHS. On a busiest-case Friday, 14 percent are absent at the first period and 40 percent of students are gone by the last period. On a day with no extracurricular activities, 8 to 9 percent of students are out.
Palmer said whatever direction the board chooses the coming months or years that it should be in the best academic interest of all the students, not just to work around athletic schedules.
The district will be issuing in about a week an online survey for parents, teachers and community members to fill out regarding their thoughts on four-day weeks and year-round school.