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Middleton School District moving to four-day school week

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Posted at 4:36 PM, May 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 18:36:43-04

MIDDLETON, Idaho — The Middleton School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday to begin the new school year in August on a four-day school week calendar.

The decision came after a recent survey of staff and parents showed overwhelming support for the non-traditional school schedule. Currently, 45 Idaho school districts and 15 charter schools operate on a four-day school week calendar. Several other districts are exploring or will transition to four-day schedules this coming school year.

The vote did not include decisions related to whether Friday or Monday would be the non-school day, the length of the day or the final school calendar. The district will gather input and feedback before final decisions are made.

“There are many positive reasons to make this conversion,” said Superintendent Sherawn Reberry.

A decision needed to happen so the district could plan accordingly, the superintendent said.

“Certainly, our response to the COVID-19 pandemic shows how the Middleton School District can make these adjustments,” Reberry said.

Two new area charter schools are attracting students from Middleton. Reberry said, adding that Forge Charter is 4-day with Friday off. Kristin Beck, human resources and communications officer, was superintendent in the Hansen School District, which operated on a four-day schedule.

“We’ve heard from some families that (the four-day week) is a draw,” Beck said.

Recruiting staff, even in hard-to-fill positions, becomes easier with the shorter week. Trustee Kirk Adams said, recognizing staff is excited about a 4-day schedule, he’s still concerned about at-risk students having one more day without the structure that school provides.

Several factors played into the unanimous vote:

  • Positive survey responses
  • Savings of about 2 percent (transportation and food services)
  • Staff retention and recruitment
  • Student enrollment because surrounding charter schools operate on a 4-day school week

Trustees expressed concerns related to the state budget cuts in education funding, but did not say their decision is related to the upcoming $1.5 million supplemental levy election. Trustees said they have confidence in the current staff to transition to four days.
1,990 total responses from parents and staff:

  • 72 percent prefer a 4-day school week.
  • 83 percent prefer Friday as the non-school day, instead of Monday
  • 76 percent prefer longer school days to account for lost time instead of more school days

Of the 332 employees who responded:

  • 75 percent prefer a 4-day schedule
  • 78 percent prefer Friday as the non-school day, instead of Monday
  • 85 percent prefer longer school days to account for lost time instead of more school days

Of the 1,606 responses from parents:

  • 73 percent prefer a 4-day school week.
  • 84 percent prefer Friday as the non-school day, instead of Monday
  • 74 percent prefer longer school days to account for lost time instead of more school days
  • 72 percent said a 4-day school week would not create issues that “I would have difficulty resolving on my own)
  • 18 percent said they would be concerned with supervising and engaging older students
  • 12 percent said they would have child care concerns
  • 5 percent said they would have concerns about food

To view the full survey results, click here.