ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING (April 28, 2020) — After listening to a plethora of public comments, the Sweetwater County School District #1 Board of Trustees decided tonight to move the district to a four-day school week beginning in the 2021-2022 school year.
According to the approved proposal, District #1 students will now attend school four days a week. Staff will now attend a full day every other designated day off (or every other Friday) to work on professional development, collaboration, and planning.
The vote passed with a four-to-three majority.
Among the Trustees who voted in favor of the four-day week included Max Mickelson, Lenny Hay, George Reedy, and Stephanie Thompson. Those who voted against the four-day week included Chairwoman Carol Jelaco, Vice-Chairman John Bettolo, and Treasurer Matthew Jackman.
Before taking action, the Board heard a variety of public comments, all of which were submitted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Public comments were varied and showed great diversity in the number of those for and those opposed to the four-day school week.
Reasonings among those who were for the four-day week included:
- Overall decreased stress levels for students
- Opportunities to make up missed work for student-athletes
- More preparation time for upcoming school weeks
- Allowing teachers more in-class teaching time
- Providing students who are behind or struggling to maintain grades a chance to catch up
Reasonings among those who opposed the four day week included:
- Greater stress on parents who work a five-day work schedule, as well as parents who have unorthodox work schedules, such as a graveyard shift.
- Limited data that supports the effectiveness of a four-day week
- No other options provided outside of a four-day week
- Greater stress on day-care facilities who will now have to accommodate more children on Fridays
- Secondary education students not properly using the extra day off
- Being boxed into a “one size fits all” plan
Public feedback from surveys and forums was accepted and read aloud as public comment. However, social media comments were not accepted as public feedback.
An Alternative Schedule Task Force was created and assigned to create a new schedule that would follow specific goals assigned by the Board of Trustees.
These goals were:
- Provide professional development opportunities, while limiting teacher time out of the classroom
- Provide blocks of uninterrupted collaboration time for all participants to attend and analyze data and plan instruction
- Recruit and retain quality teachers
The Task Force devised three options to attain these goals. The three options presented at the meeting were:
- Option one: District students attend school four days a week. In addition to student school days, District staff would attend one designated student day off and two half days on the designated student days off for collaboration, professional development, and planning each month.
- Option two: District students attend school four days a week. In addition to the student school days, District staff would attend every other designated student day off for collaboration, professional development, and planning each month.
- Option three: District students attend school five days a week, however on one designated day, elementary students would dismiss from school two hours early and secondary students would arrive at school two hours later than their start time. District staff would have this late start/early release time for collaboration, professional development, and planning each week.
Option two eventually emerged as the leading option, which was then voted in with a majority vote of 4-3.