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Local district may consider four-day week for area schools

 


What if every weekend were a three-day weekend for students and staff at Lake Roosevelt Schools? If a four-day week were implemented, how would that affect childcare? How would that affect school days?

The topic was discussed at the Oct. 15 Grand Coulee Dam School District board meeting. Numerous ramifications were discussed, but the consensus was to take the pulse of those who would be affected.

Superintendent Paul Turner noted that the Bureau of Reclamation has already been on a four-day work week, and that the Colville Tribes have recently adopted a four-day week, as well.

Director Brenda Covington noted that the tribes had implemented a four-day week in the past, but stopped it after only a few months.

“We need to talk to the staff before we go very far and get them in on the discussion,” Turner said. “It’s not something where we can just say, ‘We want to do this.’”

“This represents a community impact issue, as well,” Board Chairman Rich Black noted.

Turner suggested that the district could hold an open forum, of sorts, where anyone could share their thoughts on the topic.

“Schools that have moved to four-day weeks, the ones I’ve talked to, love it,” Turner said, saying that it does help with some staffing issues, but doesn’t necessarily save the district money.

“There are so many different things we have to take into consideration,” he said. “Just now, we have a contract for lunches for five days a week; how does that all work?”

“It changes the paradigm,” Black said.

Covington raised a number of questions and points, including how the school day would be affected, how it would affect sports, how spending more time sitting at a desk with longer days could have a negative impact on health, and more.

Turner said that all the questions and concerns are excellent, and he simply wanted to know if the board would like him to look further into the idea.

“We’re going to have to figure out how many parents would be affected if we did switch,”

Director George LaPlace said. “You mentioned the tribe and the bureau, but how many tribe and bureau workers’ kids are in the district, compared to how many work at Safeway?”

Turner mentioned that parents who work five, eight-hour days would be affected differently and childcare is a big aspect to consider with the decision.

“This is a big thing,” Black said. “A big change impacts everybody, so we’d have to be smart about saying what are the advantages or disadvantages, make sure we have a full recipe before we make a quality choice moving forward. But I think there are some benefits personally.”

LaPlace suggested not looking any further into the idea, while Director Butch Stanger suggested conducting a staff survey, with which Black agreed.

“Find out if there’s support within the district, and then expand if there is,” Black said.

A simple, anonymous survey on the topic can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8CWXN9F.

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