4-day school week off the table, Moffat County School District considers closing an elementary school

Sasha Nelson
The school board meet before a packed house on March 30 to hear about student accomplishments
Sasha Nelson

— A four-day school week is off the table as the board of education continues to determine the best option to meet roughly $17 million needed to replace or fix old buildings, replace aging buses and kitchen equipment — some items on the growing list of deferred maintenance.

“At last week’s board of education meeting, I was asked to continue to pursue the idea of consolidating four elementary schools down to three,” said Superintendent of Schools Dave Ulrich.

Shortening the school week would have generated an estimated $80,000 to $350,000 in operational savings over three years.

In comparison, consolidating and closing one of the elementary schools in Craig would save the district an estimated $750,000 a year.

A smaller amount would be saved if Maybell Elementary School were to close.

An initial analysis of enrollment data indicates that closing a school may require large-scale changes such as reconfiguring grade levels or the use of modular buildings to expand classroom space in elementary schools left open.

“For us to conduct this process correctly, it will take at least eight months to identify which facility would be the most appropriate for closure and another eight months to ensure the proper steps are followed to realize the greatest amount of operational savings,” Ulrich said.

The comparatively small savings and concerns regarding the impact of a four-day week on hourly staff were behind the decision not to pursue it as an option.

Over 200 school district staff responded to a survey last week with 73 percent of teachers but only 28 percent of classified staff in favor of a four-day week.

“The savings come on the back of a certain group of folks that get the short end of the stick,” said Board Vice-President JoBeth Tupa. “I’m not sure the $80,000 is worth the message that we would send.”

It was also uncertain how much extra time the district would gain.

“I don’t think it’s going to get us 20 years longer in our buildings. How much life would we give the facilities?” said Board Secretary Charity Neal. “Right now I’m looking at a choice to disrupt everything versus more gains by closing a school. I’m struggling going down one path, when from my perspective closing a school is bigger bang for my buck.”

As was the case with the four-day school week, Ulrich intends to continue to consult staff, parents, the board of education, the strategic planning team and other stakeholders.

“We need to start visiting with the community to get a sense of what the community would support,” said Board President Darrell Camilletti.

The next school board budget workshop is from 7 to 9 a.m. on April 13. The public is encouraged to attend to ask questions and provide comments to the board.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

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