CAMP VERDE - Teachers are for it. Students like the idea. Not all parents have been surveyed.
That is the current status of a four-day school week at Camp Verde Unified School District.
High School Principal Bob Weir has asked the governing board to come to a decision in February.
To this point, the concept had primarily focused on the high school, with strong support there from staff, students and parents. Now it is expanding to the more complex mechanisms involving all four schools in the district.
The governing board received some feedback from the middle school, elementary school and South Verde charter this week. Following the example of the high school, those schools will be sending out parent surveys soon.
A public forum is planned for Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 6 p.m. in the Phillip England Performing Arts Center to provide information and address questions and concerns.
Eighth-grade science teacher Rhonda Koeppe called the four-day schedule "spectacular."
"We do take things home more than we like to admit," she said. The four-day schedule would allow teachers a day to complete their work and preparation and return "more rested and refreshed." She said it would be a solution to the high number of absences on Fridays and also allow teachers to have medical appointments without calling in a substitute.
Weir said the school's costs in substitutes each year have been around $100,000.
At a regular session Tuesday, Weir went through a list of questions submitted from board members since the previous meeting. He and the high school leadership team have taken the lead in researching the options of schedule changes. The numbers they have found showed improved grades.
Principals at all the schools, with varying personal opinions about the idea, uniformly said if the district does decide on a four-day schedule it should be district-wide and not just the high school.
"When we first started this, I was real cautious," said Middle School Principal Danny Howe, "and I decided to take a back seat approach."
He is waiting to see the numbers showing proof that the four-day schedule improves academics but did note that the discussions brought about a morale boost for teachers and students at the middle school.
"I am certainly willing to survey parents," he said.
Elementary School Principal Debi Pottorff said she, too, was skeptical when the talk began. "I was wondering whether this is the best thing for our kids," she said.
Pottorff surveyed the staff and said she was surprised when it resulted in overwhelming support from the teachers. She said that "opened my mind that maybe this will work."
Concerns expressed at the elementary school were about the longer days for the students and what working parents would do with their children on Fridays.
Board member Bob Simbric, too, voiced concern about that, saying he did not want to lose students to other schools in the Verde Valley because parents are unable to do a four-day schedule.
South Verde Principal Steve King said one of his staff member used to work on a four-day schedule at another school and was quite negative toward the concept. As it was operated there, it was not as beneficial as had been expected. King was more amenable to the idea if tutoring programs, sports and field trips can be built into Fridays.
Weir said one reason Friday was chosen as the day off was the fact it is the district's highest absentee day. "If our attendance increases, so will our scores," he said.
Weir said they are stressing to teachers that the longer class periods would allow instruction for 45 minutes while the last 15 minutes or so would allow time for individual and personalized help on concepts.
One item of concern that was an oddity among the issues raised in his discussions with other districts now on four-day schedules was Special Education. Weir said those districts noted it was still a concern but they had done nothing to address the issue.
Board member Christine Schneider said she was worried the SpEd students would not get the repetitive and consistent approach necessary. Weir said grant-funded programs on Friday could alleviate those concerns.
Fridays have also been held up as an opportunity for tutoring and other programs to fill any void. That led Board President Helen Freeman to request that it not be referred to as a four-day work week if some students and staff will still be required to be on hand Fridays for certain things.
Simbric said the proposal should have to prove it will meet certain demands: A positive impact on school finances and increased school ratings.
Weir said the Jan. 29 public forum will be a presentation of a four-day schedule district-wide and will include a question-and-answer session.
Posted: Friday, January 24, 2014
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...and what working parents would do with their children on Fridays.
School is not responsible for providing day care. Parents need to be responsible for making those arrangements. This issue only demonstrates how little value some individuals place on education, as they are more concerned about free child care.
In response to the hours spent in school, if the new schedule is read closely, hours won't be lost due to the extended hours added to the 4 days. I'm confident that my children will continue to receive a strong education if these changes take place.
Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014
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This is a bad idea. I know the attendance rate at the high school and it is nowhere near what is reported. Missing a day now will do even more damage. Don't think this will improve attendance. Is anyone really paying attention to the man behind the curtain? He is just like the wizard from Oz....no real substance. If it wasn't for Chagolla running the wrestling program this man would have no success.
Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2014
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Will teachers contracts reflect less hours paid? I think the bigger issue is that parents are pulling their kids out of our schools, mostly the middle school--has the school board looked at that issue. whether it is 4 days or 5 days there needs to be a shake-up at the middle school and the Bullying has to stop---no one really wants to talk about that!!!!