School Board lets four-day week continue

Sean C. Morgan

The four-day school week will stay on after the District 55 School Board chose to take no action on the school calendar Monday night.

Board member Chanz Keeney moved to place the question in front of the board, but the motion died for lack of a second. With no action, Sweet Home will continue using the four-day schedule next year.

Supt. Keith Winslow provided two sample calendars, a four-day week and a “hybrid” week at the request of the School Board. The hybrid week would alternate between a four-day and five-day week, with Mondays off every other week to allow teachers to continue the professional development time they receive every other Friday on the four-day schedule.

“The hybrid calendar is not my favorite,” Winslow said. The first trimester has school every other Monday, while in the second trimester there would be no school on Mondays at all. “Parents can get used to that, but it’s not smooth. It’s not consistent.”

So many variables go into test performance that it’s hard to figure out the academic impact of the length of the week, Winslow said. Coos Bay went to a five-day week. Test scores fell, but in the next couple of years, they rebounded.

“Who knows if that’s why,” Winslow said.

“I agree with you,” said board member Leena Ellis. “I am not a fan of the calendar due to it being so erratic.”

The hybrid calendar still has a higher cost, said Chairman Mike Reynolds. If the four-day week isn’t negatively impacting test scores, he has other places he would prefer to spend district funds – to help struggling students or to pay for a school resource police officer.

“As a parent, the hybrid calendar would drive me nuts,” said board member Jason Redick. At a cost of $110,000 to $147,000 to go to a hybrid schedule, he added, “I don’t see the value, especially when you don’t see a negative impact from the four-day.”

Jenny Daniels worried that the hybrid might increase absenteeism.

Keeney said based on what he’s learned, he couldn’t really say a four-day schedule really affects students, and it really comes down to a preference.

To go to a five-day schedule would cost the district, Keeney said, and the board has been discussing hiring a school resource police officer for the past few years. He wants one of those too.

“I think we can do everything we want,” Keeney said. “It needs to be budgeted, and it needs to be planned. I think we can do a five-day and we can get a police officer.

He moved to add a vote to the board’s agenda, but it failed when none of the other members provided a second to the motion.

With that, Winslow said he would move forward on a four-day calendar.

“And I won’t bring it up again,” he added.

Classified support staff members were split 51 percent in support of the four-day week to 42 percent, who said that it was not the best for children, Winslow said.

Licensed teaching staff have been split on the question in the past, said union president Lisa Canaday. She said Monday she didn’t know what teachers generally think now.

Present at the meeting were board members Jason Van Eck, Keeney, Daniels, Redick, Reynolds, Ellis and Nick Augsburger.

Kevin Burger was absent.

In other business, the board:

– Appointed Jocelyn Gordon to serve on the Budget Committee, Holley position.

– Hired Daniel Shelton as temporary advanced math teacher for the remainder of the 2014-15 school year.

– Declared surplus dirt from the high school football field and approved exchanging it for rock.

– Received an “unmodified opinion,” a clean opinion, from Pauly Rogers and Co. for the district’s 2013-14 budget.

– Declared Houghton Mifflin Language Arts Curriculum surplus.