I read with the dismay the article about Payson school board’s decision that there will be no classes on Fridays. Instead, the school day will be extended 35 minutes each day, Monday-Thursday. It is claimed that the majority of parents and teachers voted for the four-day week; however, only 30% of the parents responded to the survey.
I have some questions about this new plan:
1) Were the survey respondents representative of the community? Perhaps the families who responded have not only the time to respond to a survey, but also the time for three-day vacations or extracurricular activities for their children. Working parents may not have had time to respond, and they may need the fifth day of school for their children.
2) Graduation rate is only 68% and now Payson is reducing time spent in the classroom. Does this make sense? I understand some other rural districts have four-day weeks, but does this schedule put our kids at even more of a disadvantage when compared to high-performing schools? I know of one school district that not only has a five-day school schedule, but also provides enrichment classes during the summer for their high-performing kids.
3) Re: child care. At the public meeting, someone suggested that high school students will be available to babysit. There are not enough spaces for school age children in our day care facilities, so the only option for working parents might be to hire a high school student. What high school student will be willing to work for $10 or less an hour, and what parent making $15 an hour can pay for eight hours of child care at $10 an hour?
4) Teens home alone: We have a significant drug problem in Payson. We have limited activities for teens. Would it not be better for them to be in school on Fridays?
5) Kids with disabilities: They will be missing a day of instruction and support services. Even kids with ADHD, like my granddaughter, would find it more beneficial to have learning spread out over five days rather than increasing the school day by 35 minutes.
Evidently the four-day school week will attract more and better teachers, according to the school board. I would hope that our best teachers are those who have the students’ best interests in mind, not those looking for a shorter work week. I would like to be convinced that the school board’s decision will benefit the community, but I fear we will be losing even more ground compared to urban, high-performing school districts.