Breckenridge Texan

Breckenridge school board approves four-day school week, starting this Fall

Breckenridge school board approves four-day school week, starting this Fall
January 24
17:04 2023

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Beginning this Fall, students in Breckenridge schools will go to class just four days a week, rather than the traditional five, after the school board voted unanimously (with one member absent) for the change in a special meeting at noon today, Tuesday, Jan. 24.

The details about things such as how the daily and weekly schedules will be worked out have not been finalized, but the Breckenridge Independent School District Board of Trustees approved the general plan to switch to a four-day school week after a three-person sub-committee studied the idea for a couple of months. Additionally, the administrators offered a survey to district employees and families to see what they thought about the idea.

The sub-committee included school board members Carrol Kanady, Nic McClymond and Paul Lippe. Lippe was the only board member not at today’s meeting.

BISD school board members Carrol Kanady and Nic McClymond, along with Paul Lippe, served on the sub-committee researching the proposal to switch the school district to a four-day week. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

The board members and administrators in attendance discussed some of the pros and cons related to a four-day school week. One of the main reasons for changing the schedule is to recruit more teachers and retain them longer. Especially since the COVID pandemic, many teachers across the country have said they are burned out on the career, which often requires them to spend hours before and after school working on lesson plans, grading papers, etc. Being able to offer a shorter work week is a tool some school districts have started using to help their teachers.

“I still have a number of reservations, and I think there’s some logistical issues with it and a bunch of outright unknowns. But, academics are number one to me. And after meeting with the administration, I feel like these guys are willing to tackle that challenge and try to see it through,” McClymond said. “Carrol’s got some issues with the young ones, in particular, and I do, too, and I think we need to consider how best to handle those guys on a go-forward. But at this point…Carrol and Paul and I agree that we should move forward with the four-day school.”

Kanady said the sub-committee didn’t take the task lightly. “And we did a lot of research. There’s not a lot of research out there because a four-day school week has not been in play anywhere for long enough to see how it will affect academics,” she said. “I am concerned for the littles because, you know, there are a lot of single parents; there are daycare issues…I don’t want children left home alone. …it pulls at your heartstrings. … My concern is the working parent that’s making minimum wage that’s going to have to pay for daycare for two or three kids. That that would be a hardship on that family, and we’re here for the kids. Ultimately, we’re here for the kids.”

A good plan to make sure the students continue to get a quality education is necessary, she emphasized.

BISD Superintendent Bryan Allen talked to the board about the benefits and potential problems with the four-day school week. He explained that there is a shortage of teachers and recruiting new teachers to the district has been a hardship.  He said he’s heard from teachers who are eligible for retirement but who said they could work another five years if they had a four-day work week.

“I mean, that is a plus for us, if we can hang on to them as long as we can,” Allen said.

In Tuesday’s special school board meeting, BISD Superintendent Bryan Allen, left, discusses some of the pros and cons of a four-day school week with the board, including President Graham Reaugh, right. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

One of the major concerns for Allen and the other administrators is scheduling the school days to ensure that BISD students get the required amount of time in school that the State of Texas requires. Each school is required to provide 75,600 minutes of operational/instructional minutes each year. In order to work all of those minutes into a school year of four-day weeks, the number of hours students are at school each day may have to increase, and some holiday schedules may be shorter.

For example, at the high school, lunch may be reduced from 45 minutes to 35 minutes, Principal Paul Armstrong said.

One decision that will need to be made is exactly what schedule teachers, administrators and staff members will follow. Graham ISD is also looking at changing to a four-day school week, and Allen said he has seen three schedules they are considering. One schedule is for a traditional five-day week; one is for a four-day week with Fridays off; and one is for a four-day week with the teachers taking two Fridays a month off and using the other two Fridays for curriculum planning, continuing education, etc.

Allen said that although 80 percent of the staff indicated they would be in favor of a four-day school week, they would only support the idea if the teachers to be off on Fridays, as well as the students. Having to work longer hours on Mondays through Thursdays and then still have to work on Fridays would not be a benefit to them, Allen said the teachers indicated.

According to an article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in August 2022, at the beginning of this school year, 41 Texas school districts had implemented a four-day school week. In this area, Woodson, Moran, Palo Pinto, Mineral Wells and Graford schools all have Fridays off. All of those schools started the new plan this school year, except for Woodson, which has had a four-day week since 2019, according to the article. Most of the schools have longer days than BISD does now, starting around 7:30 or 7:40 a.m. and ending at about 4 or 4:30 p.m.

Now that the school board has approved the four-day school week for Breckenridge schools, the administration will begin planning the details, such as class schedules, lunch times, etc.

 

Cutline, top photo: The Breckenridge Independent School District’s Board of Trustees held a special meeting at noon Tuesday, Jan. 24, and approved a four-day school week for the district, beginning with the 2023-2024 school year. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

 

 

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