District moves to four-day week

After months of great consideration and a lot of questioning, the school board voted on the decision to move to a four day school week for the 2018-2019 school year. The school board meeting was held on March 22 with several staff members present to hear the final vote. The final decision, Yes.

  The board dedicated the district to the four-day schedule for at least three years in a 5-1-1 vote with board member Brandy Fajen abstaining due to a conflict of interest and Amie Breshears voting against the measure.

  Now that the four day week is final, students are looking forward to the change.

  Sophomore Arianna Johnson is a fan of the four day week and what it will mean for class time.

  “I think the four day week is beneficial for homework purposes, we always get overloaded during the week, and never get enough time in class,” Johnson said.

  Teachers, as well as students, are hoping that the longer class time will help the students to get more done. Teachers and staff members were overwhelmingly in favor of the school week change according to a survey taken by the central office.

  Next school year, students and staff will have Mondays off and school will start at 8 a.m. and end at 3:31 for high school and middle school students. The high school and middle school classes would be lengthened by 12 minutes, taking the 45-minute classes to 57 minutes each and removing the academic lab/advisory period.

  “It’ll be alright, you’ll be here longer, learn more, and hopefully get more done,” biology teacher David See said.

  Before the vote was final, Superintendent Dr. Shawn Poyser prepared a parent forum for community members and parents to get more information on the upcoming change. Poyser arranged and planned in advance on how to best inform the town.

  Poyser also invited three Warsaw staff members and school board members and administrators from other districts who have made this change to speak to the community. Poyser said he researched the 4-day school structure for 18 months.

    “I also took every question off of the district emails and tried my best to answer each one throughout the presentation,” Poyser said

  The guest speakers at the parent forum on March 8 were leaders in districts that have made the move to the four-day week. They included Dr. Shannon Snow, the current superintendent at Stockton, Mr. Bill Crabtree, retired middle school principal at Stockton and current Stockton school board president, and Larry Walters, Maries County board vice president.

  The forum covered issues such as child care, food packs, make up days, and student attendance. The district is hoping the four day week will aid the problem of students not showing up to school. The district is trying to increase the low 83 percent attendance rate (83 percent of students attend 90 percent of the time) and help attract and retain quality educators. Snow reported that Stockton improved attendance after their move to a four-day schedule.

  Fifth-grade teacher Crystal Boyd, middle school English teacher Ty Payne and North/Ruth Mercer principal Beth Love spoke in favor of the change.

  “I would never support it if I felt it would hurt kids,” Love said.

  Junior Kamryn Yach attended the forum with her parents and and thought that it was very informative for the attendees.

  “I thought it was very informational. It was good to hear speakers who already have four day school weeks in their districts,” said Yach.

  After the forum, Poyser gave out a survey for those who wanted to take it about what they thought of the four day week after given information. Sixty seven community members filled out the survey; the result concluded with 57 for the four-day week, and 10 against.

  School board member Dr. Amie Breshears was still weighing the odds on the best decision for Warsaw after the forum.

  “I am not yet fully comfortable with a four-day week schedule for our district. While there appear to be potential benefits, there will also be costs. I am truly glad for the families, children, and employees for whom it will be positive, but I am concerned about the families, children, and employees for whom it will be negative,” Breshears said.

  With the district confident in the move to the four day week, several school board members are ready for the change.

  “It is my opinion that this course of action, at this point in time, will help the district move forward with with academic achievement and teacher retention,” school board member Drew Burdick said.