The West Side School Districts (WSSD) board meeting was held July 17.
To start the meeting off Superintendent Spencer Barzee shared the good times. Schreiber Foods generously gave the high school boys basketball team $1500 to purchase uniforms and other related supplies. Supt. Barzee also said the 12 new classrooms being constructed on the east end of Beutler Middle School are on schedule.
West Side School District has an endowment fund to help former students and current faculty who otherwise would not be able, to earn college degrees. At present six faculty members are working on an advanced degree with another 10 having already completed theirs. This helps the district in hiring quality applicants who have been trained to work specifically with West Side School District.
Student safety continues to be a concern with the student parking lot, at the middle school, specifically when students are crossing to and from the high school. The previous restrictions from last year will remain in place. At present methods of preventing access to the parking lot during times when school is in session are being explored, including, but not limited to, a gate. The hope is that by restricting traffic the students going between the middle school and high school for lunch and classes will be safer.
Members of the public who were unable to attend an open discussion between the board and the patrons of the WSSD regarding a four-day week on Aug. 1, are invited to email Barzee at firstname.lastname@example.org, to provide input on the idea.
In changing to a four-day week, the district would actually gain 12 hours of instruction time on a 60-minute period schedule at the high school, while losing one calendar day. The district would also save approximately $50,000 per year in transportation and other costs. That money could be spent elsewhere such as new equipment, construction, after school programs, etc. It would also help the district hire teachers, who are increasingly interested in the four-day week.
The board reviewed High School Principal Tyler Telford’s list of possible impacts foreseen at WSHS. He noted that class offerings, including a number of electives, would not change. Graduation requirements would not change. Periods would be modified from a 50-minute period to a 58 or 60-minute period. He stated that 50-minute periods on a five-day week are more desirable to learn math and English.
Homework loads during the week would be similar to those currently assigned. A slight shift could be explored to change due dates to allow Fridays to be used for homework when needed as the teachers adjust to students’ needs and schedule demands.
Longer periods are beneficial to CTE (Ag, Computer, CNA, etc.), art, science labs, PE, and weights classes. Sports practices would start and end at a later time. Coaches may elect for Friday morning practices.
The four-day week would better align to the Utah State University broadcast system in which many of the school’s juniors and seniors participate as it is already on a four-day week. The number of substitutes requested will decrease as teachers feel they can push personal and sick days, such as those used for personal and family medical appointments, to the three day weekend. In high school principal, Ted Telford’s opinion, having teachers in the classroom more would be the most positive benefit to the four day week.
Should the change happen the current school day would get out around 4 p.m. though the start and end dates of the current school year would stay the same. An optional Friday program would be available with transportation provided.
The current plan is for teachers to attend about every sixth Friday for professional development and other forms of assistance. Tutoring will be available for students who need help. On these days, the usual Friday program for students would not be available.
Barzee will continue investigating how other schools currently on a four-day week feel this has impacted their extracurricular activities, especially sports. The current plan is for both supervision and administration to be present at each of the buildings on the optional Fridays.