South Routt moving to 4-day school week | SteamboatToday.com

South Routt moving to 4-day school week

Teresa Ristow

Physical education teacher Artie Weber teaches the basics of basketball inside the South Routt Elementary School gymnasium in November 2015.

— The South Routt School District plans to implement a four-day school week for the 2016-17 school year, following a vote last week by the Board of Education.

Students and staff would have Fridays off, with secondary students reporting to class for 30 minutes longer each day and elementary students for 20 minutes longer.

The new schedule would still put the district comfortably above the state required amount of instructional hours for students.

"Other small districts like us, more and more of them now have moved towards the four-day week," said Superintendent Darci Mohr.

Mohr said the board proposed studying the feasibility of a four-day week after community members suggested the option during recent "Bring it to the Board" meetings — informal gatherings the board began holding in the community during this school year.

A teacher and a couple of community members then spent time researching four-day weeks and how it might work in South Routt.

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According to information posted on the district's website, 82 other districts, or about 46 percent statewide, are using a four-day week this year.

District officials said the move would save about $12,000 to $15,000 in costs, including in the transportation and food service budgets, and might help the district retain staff and attract new students interested in the shorter week.

Mohr also noted that two Fridays per month would be staff work days, which would include Professional Learning Community meetings and other professional development time for staff. She said the new calendar aligned with the district administrative team’s goal to provide better scheduling of PLC days.

Before voting on the change to the calendar, board members reviewed the results of a recent survey of more than 170 staff, parents and community members who weighed in on the calendar change.

Overall, about 75 percent of the survey respondents were in favor of a four-day week option instead of the district's traditional calendar.

Of those who were opposed, some shared concerns about childcare on Fridays for working parents and lost instructional time for students.

Mohr said that the district is aware that childcare may be an issue for some families and they plan to work with community partners to offer options to parents.

Administrators noted that sports events could take place exclusively on Fridays or weekends, eliminating the need for students to be pulled from class, with the exception of some required events.

Currently, six of the 11 school districts in South Routt's athletics division use four-day weeks.

Mohr said the four days per week that students are in class will be sacred and heavily focused on academics, a sentiment the school board plans to incorporate into a board policy it will adopt.

"Those four days will be tough," Mohr said.

Some of the particulars of the new calendar are still being discussed. The district is required to submit its calendar for state approval by the end of next week.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

By the numbers:

Current 2015-16 calendar

Student days: 166

Staff days: 179

Elementary start time: 8:30 a.m.

Elementary end time: 3:40 p.m.

Total instructional hours, elementary: 1,105 (required 990)

Secondary start time: 8:30 a.m.

Secondary end time: 4 p.m.

Total instructional hours, secondary: 1,137 (required 1,080)

Proposed 2016-17 calendar

Student days: 148

Staff days: 173

Elementary start time: 8:15 a.m.

Elementary end time: 3:45 p.m.

Total instruction hours, elementary: 1,036

Secondary start time: 8 a.m.

Secondary end time: 4 p.m.

Total instructional hours, secondary: 1,087