By Gretchen Pahia/ NewsBreak Pinal County, AZ
(Casa Grande, AZ) - The Casa Grande Elementary School District Governing Board is considering implementing a four-day school week for upcoming school years to help support staff and boost recruiting in the district.
During a school board meeting this week, parents, administrators, teachers, and the public got the chance to voice their support or opposition to the proposal. The district tells Newsbreak that the idea was shared by a community member and a staff member during a call-out to the public for proactive suggestions to address the current challenges with recruitment and retention of teachers.
Over the past few years, there has been a massive housing development book in the area, and this is causing a big inflow of students and families, causing teacher shortages and not enough incoming teachers to help cover the increase of students.
On Tuesday night, the subject of the four-day school week was a key topic at the school board meeting and many showed up to voice their support or concerns for the issue. Administrators from the district presented survey results and did discuss suggestions for possible schedules.
There were people on both sides of the proposal in attendance at the school board meeting. A number of concerns were expressed by those opposed to the idea. Some people were not in favor of the proposal because the high school and elementary school districts just recently got their schedules aligned, and this move would undo that work.
District officials say that some parents were concerned about having high schoolers left to babysit siblings if there was a four-day school week, but the older students wouldn’t be home to allow for that to work. Other concerns include a possible boost in crime rates and a drop in student success rates.
Some in the public also challenged with the idea that the proposal is lacking information such as a clear example of the calendar on which days of the week, hours for each school day and vacation, and off days for the school year overall. The board agrees there are some wrinkles that need to be ironed out before they can move forward with a decision and is working on a firmer example of what the calendar would look like and details on how the move would impact employee hours and compensation overall.
On the pro-side of the issue, the board agrees that a move such as this will create financial savings over time. While the actual amount isn’t known, the district reports they expect to see savings in areas such as transportation, utilities, and food services.
The board meeting ended without a concrete decision on the proposal, and everyone is going back to the drawing board. The discussion is set to continue at the April board meeting, scheduled for the second Tuesday of the month.
The board meeting will be open to the public and an agenda will be posted online at least 24 hours prior to the upcoming meeting. All Board meetings, except any executive sessions, are open to the public. The public is also invited to speak to the Board on any subject matter within the jurisdiction of the Board, including proposals such as the four-day week proposal. Public comment will be limited to three minutes per person.
Regular meetings of the board are held at 6:00 p.m. in the Government Board Room at the Casa Grande Elementary School District’s administrative offices, 220 West Korsten Road.