Shelley meeting

The Shelley school board listened to the discussion about a four-day school week at a work meeting on Monday. From left are trustee Brian Osterman, vice-chair Lisa Marlow, Superintendent Chad Williams, chairman Cole Clinger, trustee Scott Fredrickson, and trustee Kara Higham. Public input will be received on this issue Thursday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Shelley High School Little Theater.

SHELLEY – Shelley school board members are exploring the possibility of a four-day school week for the school district, and public input about the four-day week can be given Thursday at the Shelley High School Little Theater, 570 W. Fir in Shelley. The meeting opens to the public at 6:30 p.m.

If patrons are interested in participating in this form, each person must complete Form 1500F available at the entrance. When the person’s name is called, they will go to the microphone. He or she will be asked to state his or her name and opinion.

Each person is allowed three minutes to speak. There is a 90-minute time limit for public input. The board will listen but not respond.

Shelley trustees have been examining the possibility of a four-day school week because of two surveys conducted in December and January. In both surveys, about 70 percent of respondents were in favor of the change, to begin next fall.

The Shelley trustees have not yet made a decision about the four-day school week.

Board Chair Cole Clinger said, “We can’t make a decision before we review all the information we have obtained. We are gathering information from a variety of sources to make a decision.”

Some of these sources include public comment and feedback from patrons, academic achievement, various studies and surveys.

On Monday, the trustees and superintendent, administrators in the school district and expert witnesses took part in a four-hour open work meeting. The expert witnesses represented school districts that have or will soon have a four-day week.

The expert witnesses were Spencer Barzee, superintendent at West Side; Marc Gee, superintendent at Preston; Roger Harrison, Firth Middle School principal; Dave Wheat who was at Marsh Valley when it went to a four-day school week and is now an advisor at Idaho State University; and Cindy Kofoed, who taught at Snake River.

West Side will have a four-day school week schedule beginning this fall in the 2020-21 school year. Barzee said he felt the school district was almost forced into the decision because some of his staff were interested in teaching in Preston because of its four-day week.

“My staff values its time,” Barzee said.

Franklin County School District in Preston changed to a four-day schedule in the 2010-11 school year.

“With the increased pay of the career ladder and the four-day week, the gap has narrowed with teachers leaving Preston to seek teaching opportunities in Cache Valley (Logan, Utah),” Gee said. “In the first year of a four-day school week, Preston saved $178,000; $36,000 of that sum was the savings from the hourly staff. It impacted classified staff — bus drivers, kitchen workers and maintenance staff.”

Shelley Superintendent Chad Williams said, with permission of the board, he would like to look into rectifying that discrepancy.

Firth changed to the four-day schedule in the 2012-13 school year.

Snake River changed at the beginning of the 2010-11 school year.

Marsh Valley changed its schedule to a four-day school week in the 2006-07 school year.

During Shelley’s January school board meeting, trustees and administrators were assigned various studies that have been completed about the effects of a four-day school week.

The meeting was divided into roughly three sections: Student — achievement, morale, attendance; Teacher/Classified — recruitment/retention, morale, attendance, professional development; and Community — preference, impact, family time, scheduling family appointments.

Regarding student achievement, Clinger said, “Studies have shown there is a spike in achievement with the change and then it goes back to the same level of achievement.”

Barzee said, “Test scores do not go down.”

Regarding teaching, Kofoed said, “Teachers learned to work smarter rather than harder.”

Asked if the Shelley trustees should delay their decision a year, Williams said, “I think the trustees can make a decision during the February board meeting on Feb. 20. If we wait, we will not find any new information. If this is implemented, we can provide training for it.”