A tree, a hill and the 4-day week PART 1 of 3

 

PART 1 of 3

hill: The Salida School District board moved to a four-day week last year.
tree: No duh…er, why was that again?
hill: In part to save money.

tree: Did it save money?
hill: Yes, about 225,000 clams. I believe this would weigh one ton.
stack: Cheese and rice, that’s a lot a’ clams!
hill: Yes, everyone was VERY happy about this. It exceeded expectations. Because of some anomalies with the new high school, savings may not be quite as high next year. The move saved teachers’ jobs and student programs, while keeping class sizes smaller. It’s a huge deal, in part, because the community was very involved in the decision-making process.
tree: So, when are they going back to the five-day week?
hill: Well, the community decided to give it a few years, but assessment is ongoing.
tree: Why give it a few years?
hill: Well, it takes a few years for most communities that have switched to adapt.
tree: So, they ARE trying to get back to a five-day week right? I thought it was temporary? I guess these are weird times…are the cost savings the whole deal?
hill: The cost savings are significant and the CDE has said we can expect further cuts for the next five to seven years
tree: … But that’s insane.
hill: Well, yes, but that’s reality. Let’s not dwell on it. We simply need to make thoughtful decisions.
tree: Are we in danger financially?
hill: No, because of some excellent decisions made by the community and a school board, we are currently in safe territory. Many communities are in much worse shape, however. Moving to the four-day week was arguably a stroke of genius, and made at the right time.
tree: I see, so, maybe after we get some more money in reserves, we’ll go back to the five-day week.
hill: Why are you so excited about a five-day week, tree?
tree: A four-day week is hard on single, working parents.
hill: Great point. This is true, and some folks in the community are pulling together to help solve this. Also, the school district is creating a more comprehensive web site of activities for those who don’t want to use the Boys and Girls Club. But, you are correct, that is the primary challenge.
tree: Okay, so with the cost savings I guess we are stuck with a four-day week, huh?
hill: Well, hold on. “Stuck” is a strong word. Some communities are learning that it may be better for education. The mountains and I were skeptical about this, but as more communities move in this direction and report their results, it’s easy to see why a four-day week may be better for kids.
tree: What? Better? I don’t buy it. The kids are being short-changed on their education.
hill: Well, the class-time hours are the same. These are mandated by the state.
tree: … Aren’t kids more tired at the end of the day?
hill: Well, with an added 25 minutes it’s possible, but it’s a tough argument when adding an entire day would seem to be significantly more exhausting. Besides, who decided that little kids should be on the same work schedule as a 40-year-old? These are little kids. Anyway, that’s my opinion, it likely varies for every kid. I work best after midnight, and in many parts of the world everything shuts down in the afternoon and reopens at night. The science for a five-day week is questionable. There are all kinds of new paradigms in thinking about education these days.
tree: Fair enough. So, how did the results turn out after our first-year experiment with a four-day week?
hill: Well, we’ll need some more data over time to have a better handle on things, but in the short term they are nothing short of stunning. We know that attendance is up, the graduation rate is up, truancy is down, tardiness is down, teachers are covering more material and testing is through the roof with improvements across the board.
tree: Really?
hill: … Yes, and then there are those cost savings.

tree: You can’t credit the four-day week with all of that.

hill: That’s true. Many great things are coming to fruition in Salida schools. Some areas are easier to credit, such as attendance. Kids who care about their grades cannot afford to miss anything and they can’t afford to be late. This is what many kids are saying. Administrators respect statistics, and one year of improved testing simply does not provide enough data to justify a four-day week. But, it’s curious to wonder if supporters of the five-day week would’ve used negative data (if the test results from last year were negative) to prove that the move to a four-day week was a mistake?

tree: It’s human nature

hill: Damn humans. Did you see what Stack did to my flanks last century?

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