Chamois R-1 approves four-day week for the 2023-24 school year

By Theresa Brandt, Staff Writer
Posted 3/15/23

CHAMOIS —  Chamois R-1 school board members, last Wednesday, approved moving to a four-day week in the 2023-24 school year. The administration sent out surveys to the parents and students …

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Chamois R-1 approves four-day week for the 2023-24 school year


CHAMOIS —  Chamois R-1 school board members, last Wednesday, approved moving to a four-day week in the 2023-24 school year. The administration sent out surveys to the parents and students at the request of the school board following the February meeting. There were 90 surveys sent out, and a little over 75% of the surveys were returned to the school, with 76.5% of those returned supportive of a four-day school week.

“I was really happy with the return rate,” Superintendent Lyle Best said, explaining that typically it’s hard to get a good participation rate from surveys.

Once the surveys came back with a high rate of parents in support of the four-day week, the administration got serious about developing a four-day calendar.

The new school calendar for the 2023-24 school year will start on Tuesday, Aug. 22, and end on Thursday, May 23. The school day will be extended, with classes starting at 8 a.m. and ending at 3:42 p.m. Students will have classes for 152 days, compared to 163 last year, and the new school year will have 1,102 hours compared to 1,141.

Chamois R-1 would not cut pay for non-certified staff but would provide additional hours for staff to work.

There will be 13 planned Professional Development and workdays planned for teachers. Best pointed out that only some of these days would be planned meetings; instead, the schedule would also allow teachers time to plan and work in their classroom at things for which teachers currently do not have time.

Principal Jeremy McKague said three staff members told him they were against the four-day week. The district did not conduct a new survey of the current staff, although a survey earlier in the school year showed that 60% of the staff favored a four-day week.

“At the end of the day, we’re elected to represent the people, and they are for it,” said Board President Steve Cramer.

McKague noted that the main concern he heard from these staff members was that they would rather end the school year earlier in May.

“We do go longer in May, but I’m not sure that is a bad thing,” Best said. “It does reduce that amount of time, even if only be a couple of weeks when school stops in summer and starts in the fall when we see learning loss over the summer.”

The school district will also be developing a program called “Pirate Academy” that will function one Monday per month to offer options for students who may need extra help and offer supplemental instruction for students who have been identified as at-risk. Pirate Academy would also be available to high school students for ACT prep, group college visits, research, and A+ scholarship hours. The program was specifically developed to address concerns that parents and students brought up in the surveys.

At this point, details for exactly how the program would be run will need to be worked out.

Best proposed that teachers to staff the academy could be funded through the “Career Ladder” program, which the school district did not participate in last year. The state of Missouri is expected to fund Career Ladder again this year at 60%, leaving 40% for the school district to fund.

“These would not be contract days,” Best explained. “They would use Career Ladder for that, which is voluntary, but this is putting more money into them, which I think is good.”

“On Pirate Academy, you are basically talking about volunteers; what are you going to do if no one steps up?” Cramer asked. “Are we going to have enough staff willing to work that program?”

Best believes that the financial incentive for Career Ladder would be enough incentive to staff the proposed program.

“I would really hope teachers would take advantage of that financially,” Best said. “If it looks like we don’t, we do what other districts do and make those contract days, and it will be a rotation, and then it is not in (the teacher’s) financial interest.”

Best explained that student participation in the program would be voluntary.

“We are going to identify students who need help, they’ll be invited, and hopefully, they will come,” Best said. “We might look at the number of teachers and be able to open it up to everyone. I don’t want to go there initially or maybe we have to have teachers rotate.”

Best explained that any teacher who wants to do Career Ladder would have to be a part of Pirate Academy; that would be a requirement.

“Career Ladder is an expense for us; it’s partially funded by the state, but it’s an expense for us,” Best explained. “Financially, it’s not beneficial to the district, but that’s not what we want to focus on. I would hope you would have some teachers volunteer; if not, I don’t know why we’ve been talking about (raising) salary all this time.”

Best also explained that with a new program, it is hard to predict what participation from the students would be. Still, he would expect a limited turnout from high school students and greater participation from elementary students.

Best explained that there would be no reason that teachers would be limited from participating in Pirate Academy based on the classes they teach.

“There is no reason an elementary teacher can’t go with the counselor on a college field trip with students or high school teachers help with elementary students,” Best said.

Another part of the four-day week for the upcoming school year will be that practices and extracurricular activities cannot be planned for the regular school day hours on days the students are not attending school, including non-required practices.

“One of the benefits of the four-day week is parents can schedule doctor appointments on those days, so kids don’t miss school. If there are practices, that benefit is taken away,” Cramer said.

Best explained that the survey from parents and students showed that they believed a four-day week would give more time for family and friends and if school and sporting events are planned for those days it takes away that benefit.

Although the details have yet to be worked out, the school district will offer meal options for Pirate Academy.

“How we do that is yet to be determined, but there is a program that would reimburse the district for meals,” Best said. “I think it would be an option for us.”

Best also hopes they can offer some type of transportation, maybe on a limited route.

“That’s something to discuss, but it would make sure the bus drivers don’t lose any money,” Best said. “There are a lot of pieces to work out.”

“If that’s what it takes to get kids here, whether it is for Pirate Academy or practice, that’s part of our job,” Cramer said.

Board Vice President Angela Hagenhoff was the only board member to vote against the four-day school calendar.

McKague noted that nothing is permanent, and if the four-day calendar doesn’t work for the school district, the board can always change the decision for the following school year.


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