(Fremont County School District 1 Board of Trustees. File photo.)
(Lander) – The Fremont County School District #1 Board of Trustees has had general discussions about the viability of considering school calendars which would allow for year-round schooling and/or 4-day school weeks. Before the Trustees progress further in their investigation of these concepts, they are soliciting the opinions of the various stakeholder groups through a survey.
Emails will be sent to parents, employees, and high school students with the information below along with the survey link. It is hoped that community members who are not parents, employees, or high school students will complete the survey, also. The survey will close October 28.
Please access and complete the Year-Round Schooling and 4-Day School SURVEY at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FCSD1AlternativeCalendarSurvey
Following is the information provided by FCSD1, which can also be found on the website, along with the specific link to the survey:
Dear Fremont County School District #1 Stakeholder:
In a continuing effort to determine what can be done to improve the education for its students as part of its Strategic Plan, the FCSD#1 Trustees are determining whether or not to explore the concepts of year-round schooling and 4-day school weeks for our district. Year-round schooling would potentially decrease the amount of learning loss that occurs over the three-months of summer vacation. It would also decrease the amount of time teachers have to take at the beginning of the year in preparing students to learn. As the Trustees have studied student and teacher absence data, they have seen that there are many Fridays when there are significant numbers of students and teachers absent from school (especially at Lander Valley High School), and many of those absences are attributed to participation in student activities and athletics. Trustees feel that examination of a schedule that would maximize student and teacher attendance could positively impact student learning.
Before they go any further, the Board of Trustees would like to obtain feedback from the various stakeholders in our district to determine the degree of support or lack of support for these two concepts. Following this, you will find two things: First is some information about year-round schooling and four-day weeks, and second is a link to the actual survey.
The survey is open through October 28.
If you have questions or comments, feel free to contact the Superintendent of Schools, Mike Bowman, at 332-4711 or email@example.com, or any of the school board members. Their contact information can be found on the District website at http://www.landerschools.org/schoolboard/school-board-members/
In the most likely scenario that would be considered for FCSD#1, the school year would be structured with 45 days of school (i.e., a quarter) followed by three to five weeks off. Research is mixed in regard to improved academic performance. Some studies show that there is a slight increase, while others show there is not. Some studies show that low socio-economic and special education students more frequently benefit than other students. The following are some of the most common pros and cons of year-round schooling:
Pros and Cons
|· Less summer learning loss· Intervention programs during breaks (if money is available)· Families (and staff) can have vacations during four seasons
· More frequent breaks
· Low socio-economic and special education students more frequently benefit than other students
· Stress-levels for staff and students decrease with more breaks
· Attendance for staff and students may improve because doctor and dentist appointments could be scheduled during the interim times.
|· High school students can’t hold summer jobs· Potential adverse effect on sports and activity schedules and competitions· Child-care issues
· Difficult to schedule “big” maintenance jobs
· Students lose the ability to attend some summer camps and college institutes
· Would need to schedule around state-required testing windows
· Graduation dates may change significantly
· Individual students and some teams wishing to attend sports camps in the summer may not be able to attend certain ones
· Air conditioning costs increase
· Teachers’ ability to go to a college campus for coursework during the summer is affected
· Review time may be required at the beginning of each quarter
4-DAY SCHOOL WEEK
The FCSD#1 Trustees are considering a 4-day week because there are numerous Fridays when there are many activities, such as sports contests, that take students and teachers from Lander Valley High School. It is felt that by having students and teachers present more, student achievement will be improved. Under a typical 4-day school week concept, the length of the school day is lengthened, and the number of school days is shortened. The state has a requirement for the minimum number of instructional hours in a school year for each grade-level, and the school calendar and school day would be constructed to ensure that those minimums are met. One district in Wyoming that is on a 4-day week plan has 148 days of school, and another has 155 days; students in FCSD#1 currently go to school 175 days.
In most districts where 4-day weeks are implemented, removal of students from school for activities on Mondays through Thursdays is prohibited except in unique circumstances. Thus, sports contests and other activities are only allowed to be scheduled on Fridays and Saturdays, and some home contests are allowed on Thursdays after school. The schools in our conference would have to work with us in order to ensure that contests are not scheduled Mondays through Thursdays. State contests, such as FFA judging, that are scheduled by state organizations on non-Fridays would still be attended by our students, but those would be infrequent occurrences.
Teachers typically work either some Fridays each month or part-days each Friday, and District-sponsored professional development activities and curriculum work are held on Fridays in order to ensure that teachers are not pulled from the classroom for these activities.
Some school districts provide opportunities for remediation and enrichment for students on Fridays. Research doesn’t show any significant change in student achievement with a 4-day week.
An option that may be examined is having the high school students on a 4-day week plan and K-8 students on a traditional 5-day plan. The following are typical pros and cons of 4-day weeks:
Pros and Cons
|· Student and teacher attendance improves due to activities being scheduled on Fridays and Saturdays· Can use Fridays for interventions and enrichments· Can use Fridays for staff development
· Longer class periods per day allow more time for projects/lessons
· Parents can use 3-day weekends for mini-vacations
· Increased time for planning and collaboration for teachers
· Doctor and dentist appointments can be scheduled for Fridays
· Utility bills decrease
· School lunch costs decrease
· Transportation costs decrease
· Classified staff costs decrease
· Need for substitute teachers decreases
· Snow-day make-up becomes easier
|· Child-care issues for one-day per week· Amount of money earned by classified staff decreases· Increasing the secondary schedule by 15 minutes per day is not an even trade-off for losing 20 or so contacts a teacher has with each class (175 to 155 or so)
· Three days off each week can be a problem with retention of learning for students with learning disabilities
· Getting all students up-to-speed each Monday after a three-day weekend
· All games and activities will need to be scheduled for Thursday nights, Fridays, and Saturdays; Mondays through Thursdays will need to be free of activities taking students away from school.
· When it is necessary to miss a day of school due to an activity (such as FFA, ProStart, etc) or illness, the day away from school is more significant since there are fewer school days.
· Longer days are harder on K-3 students
· Athletic practices will begin later and students will have less time at home before bedtime for homework, family time, etc.
· We already go to school fewer days than other countries.
· Students from homes of poverty will only get meals at school four days each week.
· Scheduling the required art, music, and PE at the elementary-level will be difficult with one less day per week.
· At-risk students may be home alone for an extra day each week, creating a greater probability of their engaging in negative behavior.