SHELLEY — Shelley Joint School District 60 is ditching its traditional five-day-a-week schedule to try something its school board believes will benefit students, families, the community and the district.
On Thursday night, the board unanimously approved moving from a five-day school week to a four-day week.
Board Chairman Cole Clinger said a state school board convention in November offered a workshop on four-day school weeks. A few board members attended the class, and some “interesting points” were mentioned, Clinger said. From there, he said, discussions on the topic began.
“Really quite a robust process went into things,” Clinger said.
He said the decision was made over three school board meetings, plus a work and public input session. The district sent two surveys out to the community, he said. Board members also spoke with neighboring districts that were for and against the idea.
According to a Shelley School District presentation, 39 percent or 45 of the 115 Idaho school districts currently go four days a week. Other districts are also looking into this schedule, the presentation states.
Clinger said the change isn’t happening because of financial reasons. He believes it may save about 1 percent of their budget, which equates to $137,570, according to the slideshow.
“The students are the No. 1 priority, then you go through the community and the teachers and look at the pros and cons for those groups and where your concerns are,” Clinger said.
Clinger said the new schedule has its advantages, such as increased attendance because parents can schedule appointments on Fridays and families can take vacations without worrying about their child missing a school day.
He said there’s also the possibility of the district holding tutoring sessions and other programs on Fridays where students would have the chance to apply what they’ve learned and gain experience that can’t happen in classrooms.
“We think that there’s some neat opportunities that can come along with what we can do to help them achieve their potential and get exposure on those Fridays,” Clinger said.
Where he said the four-day week will be especially beneficial is in the district’s efforts to recruit and keep long-term teachers.
“For us to really compete for those top-level teachers, we’ve got to have some sort of a competitive advantage. We don’t have that in any way compared to our surrounding districts,” Clinger said. “That comes back to the students because we want to put the absolute best teachers we can in the classroom. We think that’s what gives our kids the best education.”
Shelley High School. | File photo
Not all parents are supportive of going to four days because it interferes with their work schedule.
Shyanne Hampton and her husband work full-time and have three kids in school.
“That means I have to figure out how to either up my pay or somehow find money to afford the babysitter and the daycare that I have to have in order for me to still work. I have to have a job,” Hampton said. “I don’t think it’s something we should be going through with.”
Other parents are trying to find positives with the change.
One single mom whose a classified employee in the district is worried about how her pay will be affected. But she is looking forward to seeing how the change benefits her children.
“I’m excited to be able to have more family time with them and the possible opportunities that could be available for my high school daughter,” Dana Shigihara told EastIdahoNews.com. “Change is hard, and it comes with its own growing pains, but it also comes with beautiful and positive outcomes. I am very hopeful for the future of Shelley and see this as an overall positive thing.”
The four-day week begins in August. The official calendar is still being worked on, but Clinger said it will be available on the district website.
Shelley School District to begin four-day school week