Board to decide 4-day week

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The Hayden School Board tonight plans to decide whether students will have a four-day school week.

Administrators have proposed that the district implement a four-day week for 13 weeks between Thanksgiving and spring break. Teachers would spend Fridays developing collective goals and techniques that will help improve student achievement.

School days would be about 33 minutes longer, but the school year would not be extended.

Initially introduced as a cost-saving measure, the district is considering the four-day week as a way to provide teachers much-needed collaboration time that ultimately could enhance the time they spend with students.

The district estimates the four-day week proposal would shave about $10,000 from an estimated $200,000 budget shortfall in 2005-06.

Parents, teachers and board members have discussed the issue at several School Board work sessions.

Medora Fralick is among the parents who initially were opposed to the idea but have warmed up to the schedule after hearing from teachers and administrators about the potential benefits.

"Now that I've educated myself, I'm probably one of their biggest proponents," she said. "From an academic standpoint, for the staff and students, I absolutely think there are benefits to be had, and I certainly hope they move forward with that."

A primary concern for many parents has been child care on Fridays. The district has pointed out that high school students will be available to help with child care, and the Totally Kids program may provide daytime activities for children.

Another concern among some parents is whether a four-day school week might encourage parents who work in Craig or Steamboat Springs to enroll their children in those districts.

That is difficult to predict, but if parents are educated about the benefits and goals of a four-day week, losing students to other districts shouldn't be too much of a problem, School Board President Kurt Frentress said.

Fifty-one of the 178 school districts in Colorado have four-day weeks. There is no conclusive data showing the effects of a four-day week on student achievement, according to a report by the Colorado Department of Education.

In Hayden, the schedule would help accommodate a new academic philosophy, called Professional Learning Communities, which encourages teachers to collaborate in setting academic goals and intervention plans for students.

Fifth-grade teacher Robin Bush is among the teachers saying they rarely have time to work one on one with other teachers to coordinate lessons or discuss techniques and goals.

"I'm definitely interested in trying it ... in the proposal they have now," she said.

Some parents and staff, encouraged by the possible benefits of a four-day week, have suggested implementing the schedule for the whole school year.

That would extend the school year by at least two weeks, however, which is unappealing to some families that have long enjoyed a school year that starts after Labor Day and ends before Memorial Day.

Also tonight

The School Board tonight also will vote on a number of measures that will restructure staff and help cut spending. The changes would result in two fewer teachers at Hayden Valley Elementary School.

The district is proposing to not renew second-grade teacher Holly Hoskins' contract and move Bush to the middle school, where she would teach sixth-grade science and math. The elementary school likely would have one combined second- and third-grade class and one third- and fourth-grade class.

In addition, district media specialist Kevin Dellit also would be moved to the middle school, where he would teach literacy. Dellit and Bush would be replacing middle school teachers Bret Hoover and Lars Jacobson, who are resigning after this year.

Also tonight, the School Board will further discuss implementing activity fees to try to bring more revenue into the district. Charging a flat rate or basing rates on the number of activities students participate in are among the options.

A group of parents, coaches, parents and students likely will be put together to develop a proposal to present to the board at a later meeting, superintendent Mike Luppes said.

The School Board will meet at 7 p.m. in the high school videoconference room.

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