Below, The Edina Sentinel has compiled information about the KCR-1 School District inquiry into a four-day school week. Users can watch school board meetings, link to an array of studies and link to the school district's informational sources. The Edina Sentinel story, published on January 23, 2019, about the four-day school week consideration is also included.
The open forum scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 29, at the district has been postponed. The new date and time will be posted when it is rescheduled.
Scroll down for information about the four-day school week.
January 2019 KCR-1 School Board Meeting VIDEO
Fast forward 11 minutes to go straight to the most recent conversation about the four-day school week. The conversation lasts approximately 15 minutes.
December 2018 KCR-1 School Board Meeting VIDEO
Fast forward six minutes to go straight to the conversation about the four-day school week. The conversation lasts approximately 14 minutes.
KCR-1 School District Considering Move to a Four-Day School Week
By Echo Menges
The Knox County R-1 School District is seriously considering moving to a four-day school week to battle a high turnover rate where the teaching staff is concerned. As part of their consideration, an informational database has been established on their website, www.knox.k12.mo.us, for community members.
The website features a short video explanation by KCR-1 Superintendent Andy Turgeon and a short survey, which parents and community members are asked to take. A slew of information is also given as resources, which includes many links to studies on the four-day school week compiled by Dr. Jon Turner, Assistant Professor of Counseling, Leadership, and Special Education at the Missouri State University in Springfield.
The district has also compiled a list of pros and cons, drafted a calendar of what a four-day school week could look like and included a map of state showing the locations of the 33 Missouri school districts already attending a four-day school week.
According to Turgeon, a four-day school week would allow for the same amount of instructional time students are currently scheduled to attend by lengthening the school day by 35 minutes. The school day could begin at 8:00 a.m. instead of 8:15 a.m. and end at 3:35 p.m. instead of 3:10 p.m.
“We had a committee looking into it last year. This year it has grown even more because there (are) three schools in our area, and one more school in our conference, seriously looking into going into (a four-day week) next year. LaPlata, Brashear and Novinger are all seriously considering if for next year. In our conference, Fayette is also looking at going in that direction,” KCR-1 Superintendent Andy Turgeon candidly told the School Board during the November 2018 meeting. “It’s kind of something that I was probably dead set against. There are still some areas I’m concerned about (and) looking into. But we still face the same issue we faced in the last four years. We average 20 percent of our staff leaving the school. In the last couple years, we’ve asked staff members, ‘Why are you leaving?’ A lot of them are going back home. We had that issue last year and we will probably have that same issue this year at the end of the year. Twenty percent is a lot. I know in the elementary (school) there are grades we have not had any consistency in those grades as far as having the same teachers year after year for the last five years. We all know every first-year teacher gets better the second year, they get better the third year – so you build a consistency and have that growth. This is the main reason why we are looking. Some people will say we are saving money. I am not convinced this is a money saver.”
“There are 33 schools in the State of Missouri that are four-day school week, most of them comment that retention and recruitment was an issue, that they’re seeing more people applying and they’re having less and less openings every year, which tells me that it’s working. Every time we have openings, we don’t get a ton of applicants. We’ve had people tell us (their) spouse needs a job and there’s nothing for them to do in Knox County so have to live somewhere closer to there. It kind of limits our pool. I’m not saying a four-day school week is going to attract a family where a spouse is going to turn down a job in Columbia per say, but what it might do is maybe keep some teachers here that are here, or it might attract some teachers from some neighboring schools that might come here. That is our biggest issue right now. How do we fix that? It’s a huge concern when every year you have several teachers that you’re training, we spend a lot of time training those teachers and at the end of the year they leave,” said Turgeon.
The Superintendent has been careful to point out the possible benefits like an expected increase in attendance as Mondays are commonly the most missed days of the year by students, the ability to schedule field trips and other meetings and activities on Mondays to avoid taking time out of instructional time and the benefit of being more attractive to prospective staff members. The drawbacks include less access to healthy meals for impoverished students, access to childcare for younger students and a disruption to the five-day routine.
“We would gain instructional time. We would go (to school) 45 minutes less in the course of the year, but when you start taking away all the days we take off and you take away those 18 minutes of passing time you’re actually gaining instructional time. Over the course of the year students are in attendance here 45 minutes less. A lot of schools that go to the four-day school week have really shrunk down their hours. State legislation passed saying you only have to go 1044 hours. A lot of schools are just going above that to make sure they meet their hours,” said Turgeon. “I’d be crazy to sit here and say I’m not concerned about some things. Child care on Mondays - if my youngest went to school I’d be (wondering) what am I going to do with her on Mondays. We need to find out from the community how much of a concern that is. One less day of school providing healthy meals. How do we address that? Do we go back to the Buddy Packs? What are our options? Another concern I’ve seen in the research is extracurricular activities that meet on Mondays. How do the kids get there? The high school level doesn’t seem to be a problem, but (it) could be a problem at the middle school level with kids that don’t drive.”
The online survey is being pushed to the community at large. The district is asking for input on a countywide level. Those interested in taking the short survey can find it on the district’s website and take it anytime.
“The bottom line is we are not doing this for financial reasons. We are trying to address the biggest issue we have, which is teacher retention,” said Turgeon.
An open forum discussion is planned for Tuesday, January 29, in the high school cafeteria at 6:00 p.m. Parents and community members are asked to bring their questions and an open mind. For those who cannot attend, The Edina Sentinel will live stream the meeting on the nemonews.net Facebook page.
(This story was published in the January 23, 2019 edition of The Edina Sentinel.)