Meeting Held Regarding a 4-Day School Week
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By Marlana Smith
Shelby County R-IV Superintendent Troy Clawson, board members and many patrons attended a near two-hour informational meeting on Wednesday, February 1, 2023, regarding the possibility of South Shelby going to a four-day school week calendar. Shelby County R-IV board members are scheduled to have a meeting Wednesday, February 8, 2023, to discuss and vote on the possible change.
Clawson gave a presentation with specifics on the four-day school week calendar and the floor was eventually opened for public comments.
“Probably the biggest reason the district is considering this calendar option is due to schools transitioning to four-day school week calendars option to attract and retain staff, both certified and non-certified positions,” said Shelby County R-IV Superintendent Troy Clawson.
According to Clawson, the State of Missouri gives locally elected school boards the option to move to the four-day school week, if they feel it is in the best interest of the students.
Clawson stated that currently there are 146 Missouri School Districts on a four-day school week calendar. This number is expected to be 160 plus in 2023-24.
According to the Missouri State University-Four Day School Week Resource Center (www.fourdayweek.us): Scotland Co. R-I, Schuyler Co. R-I, La Plata R-II, Marion Co. R-II, Bevier C-4, Macon Co. R-IV, Bucklin R-II, Milan C-2 and Linn Co. R-I are all on a four-day week.
Clawson said the district would see some financial savings. The buses would travel less, and the HVAC systems could be scheduled to accommodate less people in the buildings on days where no school is scheduled.
“The staff at Shelby Co. R-IV is our great resource,” said Clawson. “We plan to give raises to both certified and non-certified staff as we typically do each year. The certified staff are employees on salary. Their total number of planned hours of instruction will not change.”
Clawson said increasing hourly rates with fewer planned hours would make the non-certified positions more attractive when they become available.
“The district has struggled to attract applicants in all positions,” Clawson continued, “All businesses are facing staffing challenges in today’s world.”
If the four-day school week calendar is implemented Monday would be the day school would not be in-session. School would begin at 8 a.m. and dismiss at 3:32 p.m. Morning buses would run at the same times as 2022-23’ and evening buses would run about 20 minutes later.
Tutoring would be offered Tuesday through Friday. Shuttle buses would continue to run at 5:15 p.m. with drop-offs at Clarence and Shelbina. All school days would be full days, except for Homecoming.
Clawson stated schools that the district has spoken to each highlight two main points: Attendance for both students and staff improves, and students’ engagement has improved.
South Shelby students attending Macon Vo-Tech would attend Mondays when Macon scheduled classes. Practices and games for athletics would still take place on Mondays. All practices for extra-curricular teams held on Monday would not begin before 3 p.m.
Monday Academy will also be offered if the district voted to approve the four-day school week calendar.
Hours would be 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Elementary Eligibility areas targeted are for reading, writing and math, grades kindergarten through fifth grade. No Preschool – Remediation Only. Middle school and high school students that have a D or F will be requested (invited) to attend on Monday. Students that need a credit recovery (edgenuity) may attend as well.
A ‘Monday Academy Parent Application’ would be sent home stating: “The purpose of this application is to allow parents to request the district to research this child’s achievement data. This will be used to evaluate if Monday Academy would be beneficial. Each student’s data will be reviewed and discussed with a team of teachers, administration and the parents to gauge qualification into the Academy.”
“Whether you think this is a good fit for South Shelby or not, the real question is not “if” we adopt this calendar option, but “when,” Clawson continued, “If we wait, there becomes a real threat that we could or will lose good teachers without good alternatives to take their place.”
Clawson opened the floor for public comments.
“In the schools you have talked to about this, are they schools in places that have better resources for daycares and other things for kids to do?” asked Jenna Begley.
Clawson responded, “Daycare is always a question, but they find ways to make it work. The thing I remind you is that we got a whole army of high school kids that are available.”
Begley commented, “you say they find ways, but what is the way? How are they finding a way?”
Clawson said, “I think it’s just communicating around the community.”
Begley added there is a lack of daycares.
“I know that’s always a concern and always the topic when we start discussing this. If we thought it would work to offer daycare, we would consider it. But, as we talk to schools every school that started one, there is only one that kept it going,” Clawson stated.
Jeni Watson, whose child is currently in Pre-K, said he is in special education. He is going to repeat Pre-K so he would not qualify for the Monday Academy program.
Watson said she is concerned it will be counterproductive to have that three-day stretch just be-cause of adjusting after the weekend.
“He just thrives very much in a social atmosphere and learns from his peers and a habit routine,” Watson continued, “He would be excluded from the Monday Academy. I feel like for a child like him would specifically be a child that would be in Monday Academy.”
Clawson informed Watson of the Monday Academy parent request information sheet.
“I am not going to sit here and tell you we won’t consider expanding that a little bit,” said Clawson. “We will do whatever we can to make the situation the best for the kids.”
Channing Black asked, are there any academic statics?
Clawson said Dr. John Turner, from Missouri State University, has been doing research on it and had a couple research studies based on state scores. As the study was getting ready to come out, COVID hit. Last Clawson spoke to Dr. Turner they had some research they were doing.
That’s a question Clawson said he has been asking other districts.
“They (Districts) have said, the kids are performing as they were performing before so it hasn’t been a negative effect. We haven’t had anybody tell us, ‘Our kids have suffered because we have went to this,’” said Clawson. “I don’t have the numbers to show you.”
Begley asked Clawson, why is my kid expected to be here five days for practice and four days for school.
“They don’t have to be here for five days a week, a lot of them choose to be,” Clawson responded.
Begley discussed how there are children who don’t have very good family life. What about the mental health for those kids? What about this is their safe place and their home is not their safe place?
Clawson responded the district has intervention teams that meet regularly and talk.
“If there are kids we identify and think are struggling, and we can tell when things are rough at home, those are kids we provide extra support to,” Clawson continued, “We will do that no matter if we are here. The calendar isn’t going to change that.”
Colette Elsen asked, why doesn’t the district let Monroe or Macon do it first, a sizeable school like them, and get actual numbers and show what grades and attendance has done.
“I want to see numbers, and if we are not sure how it is going to affect the kids, why risk it?” said Elsen.
Clawson thanked everyone for coming and the meeting ended a little before 8 p.m.