MCSD calendar committee asks for community input on four-day school week |

MCSD calendar committee asks for community input on four-day school week

Students enter and exit the building on the first day of school at Moffat County High School.
Cuyler Meade / Craig Press

Moffat County School District’s calendar committee is asking the community for input regarding potentially implementing a four-day school week across the district, according to a new survey released on Friday.

Talks of four-day school weeks have been taking place at least since election season among new school board members; some candidates used the change as part of their platforms, and others said they were open to the idea. Currently, only Maybell Elementary runs on a four-day school week in Moffat County, while nearby Hayden School District has run on that kind of schedule for years.

“We realize the calendar will impact our entire community and we are trying to gather input in making the best decision for the education of our students,” the committee’s opening statement to the survey reads. “This survey is one of many pieces of information that will help form the final decision by the committee as they present a future calendar for the school board’s approval in January 2022.”

In the survey, parents and other community members are asked about various options for school week schedules. In one option, the committee asks how supportive survey takers are about having just one Friday off per month for students, with the rest of the weeks remaining five days per week. Another potential option is having students not attend on Fridays while staff have half of the Fridays as professional development days and are not required to work on the other Fridays.

Other questions include support or opposition toward longer school days, lengthening the school year to start earlier in August or end later, in June, and an open-ended question about what aspects of the current schedule parents believed were beneficial to their children.

Calendar committees are not formed every year, and — in some cases — multiple school calendars can be approved at one time. A calendar committee was discussed heavily last year, but, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was postponed until the spring.

In the state of Colorado, 114 school districts, or 64%, of the 178 school districts — plus one BOCES-operated school and select schools of the Charter School Institute — utilize the four-day school week. In order to receive the same amount of instruction as the traditional school weeks, some districts schedule 7.5 hours per day for 144 days of school instead of the normal six hours for 180 days. Many opt to have school last longer in the afternoon rather than start earlier.

In June of this year, the Colorado Department of Education revised its Four-Day School Week Information Manual, where the CDE names all of the districts working four days per week and what main problems and benefits come from the transition. Most of the districts that use a four-day schedule are in rural communities, the manual reads.

“Districts utilizing the four-day week tend to be rural and sparsely populated. Many have great distances for students to travel with long bus routes,” the manual reads. “Many also have major distances to travel to athletic events, as they participate in differing sports, conferences, and leagues. The majority of four-day districts conduct no classes on Friday.”

Schools across the country — including MCSD — are facing teacher shortages that are often the catalyst for structural changes within school districts. For other districts, having a more flexible school year has become a positive amenity for prospective teachers and teachers already working within those districts. 27J schools in Adams County made the switch as a recruitment tool to bring in more teachers, and that move paid off, according to reporting from the Denver Post.

As of publication, there were still 39 openings across the Moffat County School District, including numerous coaching jobs in athletics, bus driver positions and teacher openings at the high school. According to teachers in the MCSD, planning periods are often spent covering other duties like lunch or other classes because of shortages. Administrators often cover these shifts as well, and others drive buses because of driver shortages.

Though each district operates on its own schedule or calendar, community input given to the Moffat County School District calendar committee could influence the school board’s decision on the next calendar in January. Though the committee has not made a decision yet as to what it will present to the board of education, in December, the committee may make adjustments again and get more community feedback before presenting it to the board in January.

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