School board to vote on 4-day school schedule

Weiser School District board members will vote tonight (May 11) on whether to transition district schools to a 4-day weekly schedule for the 2022-23 school year.
 The vote will take place during a special meeting that begins at 5:30 p.m. at the district office. It is not a public hearing, and no testimony or comments will be taken.
 “There has been a buzz about it for a while, maybe a year or so,” said District Superintendent Wade Wilson last month. “There has been community and parent interest, so the board decided to take it up.”
 The district launched an initial online survey in April to gauge interest among stakeholders, which included teachers, parents, students, administrators, and others. Results showed that 64 percent of 727 respondents were in favor of a 4-day school week, with 23 percent opposed, and 13 undecided.
 In addition, a committee consisting of two trustees, two building administrators, four teachers, and six parents, was formed to research the potential benefits and challenges of a shortened week. The group, in a PowerPoint presentation, revealed its findings during an informational meeting held at Weiser High School on Wednesday, May 4.
 “The biggest thing is that this is not a sales pitch. It’s just a presentation of our findings as a committee,” said committee member Brent Roberts, addressing a small crowd that had gathered inside the WHS auditorium last week. “Many schools in our area have already started a four-day school week and that, along with interest within the community, was the impetus behind this.”
 Area schools that have already moved to a four-day week include Homedale, Parma, Fruitland, Payette, Midvale, Cambridge, Middleton, Marsing, and New Plymouth. 
 Last week, the Ontario School District voted in favor of a “modified” 4-day school schedule, which means Ontario schools will generally have Fridays off, but could have limited instruction on those days as needed.
 “We started with a 4-day week in August of 2020, and we are very glad we did it,” Payette School District Superintendent Robin Gilbert told the Weiser Signal American last week. “All the work we did up front in identifying what the concerns might be in the community and finding ways to help mitigate them helped a lot. We also came up with a schedule so parents could actually see how long the day would be and how it would affect them. Once we got all that out, people were pretty receptive.”
 The Weiser School District has posted a great deal of information, including potential schedules, on its website at www.weiserschools.org.
 Included is the PowerPoint presentation from the May 4 informational meeting.
 The presentation shows information the committee gathered through discussions with area school district superintendents, personal interviews, and informational reports conducted by the RAND Corporation, an American nonprofit “think tank” dedicated to collecting and providing quantitative and qualitative data and analysis from a variety of sources to assist decision making on myriad of issues and topics.
 More information was gleaned from the National Conference of State Legislators, Education Week, District Administration, The Journalist’s Resource, and Rural Educator. Links to those sources are provided below.
 Some of the benefits the committee listed in its PowerPoint presentation included more family time, teacher recruitment and retention, professional development and collaboration days for staff on the fifth day off, opportunity for staff and students to attend appointments, and possible academic/extracurricular opportunities.
 Some of the challenges/concerns listed included longer school days (anywhere from 30 to 55 minutes), a potentially longer school year, day care and food insecurities, student achievement, impact on special needs students, and unsupervised students around town on their day off.
 Residents were encouraged last week to take part in the district’s follow-up survey, the results of which will be published in next week’s issue of the Weiser Signal American, on its website at www.signalamerican.com, and on its Facebook page. The follow-up survey ended on Tuesday, May 10 at 5 p.m., well past deadline for this week’s issue.
 The district board will make its vote tonight based on the follow-up survey and the research gathered by the committee.
 Committee Research Links: 

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