Moffat schools officially considering 4-day school week
Committee’s proposal met with concern, but movement toward shorter instructional week remains strong
The calendar committee for the Moffat County School District presented its pitch for a potential model of a four-day school week for next fall at this month’s board of education meeting. Pending approval from the board, the plan would be the first time MCSD has put in a four-day structure districtwide.
But approval of the calendar in its current form by the board — which made it clear prior to the meeting that it wouldn’t vote Thursday night — seemed unlikely after a skeptical if not negative response from the majority of the members. While support for a four-day schedule was strong on the board and in the community, the particular proposal was met with significant concern.
“Right now, I do not like the calendar at all,” said board member Krystal Fedinec during the meeting Thursday. “I have had 50-plus emails from staff members, from parents, that do not like it either.”
In to the proposed schedule, students attend Monday through Thursday each week, starting Aug. 15. Students will attend school the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving Week and have two full weeks off for winter holidays. Spring Break will still be a week long, from March 10-17. The school district will also recognize Labor Day and Memorial Day. Other Monday holidays — like Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents Day, Veterans Day and Columbus Day — are currently not observed as part of the draft.
In the model presented, while students would not attend school Fridays, every other Friday would be a professional development day for teachers. Under the drafted calendar, the last of the school year for students will be June 8.
If the district were to adopt the calendar, it would include a three-year commitment with a yearly review.
Talks of instituting a four-day school week in Moffat County’s school district have been raised on and off for years, but interest continued to build during 2021’s school board elections, when several candidates expressed open minds toward the option. Maybell Elementary, which is in the MCSD, has already been on a four-day school week schedule for several years — with Fridays being used as planning and staff development days.
The calendar committee also released a survey to gather interest from other parts of the community about a new calendar this past November. Questions on that survey included asking the public’s opinion about moving to an overall four-day week. In one option, the committee asked 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 option was 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.
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. Most of the schools in the state that use the four-day system are rural, including nearby Hayden, Meeker and Baggs.
If the MCSD board approves the new calendar, Steamboat Springs School District will be one of the only schools left on a traditional calendar in the Northwest Colorado region. According to the Colorado Department of Education, state law requires that all students receive a certain amount of “contact time,” or instructional time with a teacher. Four-day calendars typically include longer days so the actual “contact time” is the same as the schools with longer weeks. For example, in Hayden, secondary school students have school days that last until 4:06 p.m.
“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,” CDE’s four-day school 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.”
Currently, there are 41 openings for jobs in the school district, and school board members have told the Craig Press that a four-day school week could be a good recruitment tool. More urban counties in recent years have turned to the transition to a four-day calendar in order to boost teacher retention, such as Adams 27J District.
The committee is able to change the proposal before the next board meeting, including potentially lengthening days and cutting back weeks, or even cutting total hours of instruction altogether, as one committee member indicated the district had more than the minimum to qualify under Colorado standards.
The district will hold community meetings addressing the calendar Feb. 1 and Feb. 8 at the administration building from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
In Moffat County’s proposed 2022-2023 calendar:
• The school year starts on Aug. 15 and ends June 8.
• Students and staff get three days off during Thanksgiving week.
• The calendar committee scheduled two full weeks for winter holidays.
• Spring Break is still an entire week.
• There will be no school on Labor Day and Memorial Day.
In Meeker (2021-2022):
• School started on Aug. 23 and the last day will be May 26.
• Teachers work one Friday each month for professional development.
• Thanksgiving Break was three days long (including Black Friday).
• Students and staff get two full weeks off for winter break.
• Spring Break will be a full week out of school.
• Labor Day was a holiday.
In Hayden (2021-2022):
• The first day of school was Aug. 23 and the last day of school for students will be May 26.
• Labor Day was a day off.
• November had a full week for fall break.
• Winter Break was one week, with students returning on Jan. 3.
• Spring Break will be a full week.
In South Routt County School District (2021-2022):
• Teachers came back on Aug. 17, and students started on Aug. 24.
• Students’ last day will be June 2.
• The school district recognized Labor Day as a holiday.
• Thanksgiving Break was three days.
• Winter Break was two full school weeks off.
• Spring Break is a full week.
• Students and staff will have Memorial Day as a holiday.
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