In an effort to attract and retain quality teachers, Dolores School District Re-4A will move to a four-day school week next school year.
The Dolores School District Board of Education approved the change last month. A public meeting with district staff will be held March 16 to answer questions.
Mancos School District changed its calendar to four days a week a few years ago.
The Dolores School District explained the move in an FAQ document.
The primary reasons were to provide competitive recruitment for quality teacher candidates, retention of current staff, extended family time and extracurricular options for Fridays.
Currently, 111 out of the 178 school districts in the state utilize the four-day school week as the structure for organizing their school year, according to research from the Colorado Department of Education.
The current proposal would mean that school days will run from Monday through Thursday.
Hours for elementary schools would run from 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Secondary school hours would be 7:40 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
According to the FAQ document, American children are struggling with stress, testing, long days and little activity. Other nations tend to have shorter school days and longer breaks and recesses.
“It’s been a topic in our district for several years,” Dolores Superintendent Elisabeth Richard told The Journal. “We wanted to make sure the decision didn’t affect students negatively with their academics, so we pulled a lot of the research out on that.”
Pay for teachers in Dolores is on the lower end of the scale, and facilities are lacking. The calendar change might make suitable candidates for teaching positions choose Dolores, instead of going to teach elsewhere where they could work less days for more pay.
Other possible benefits from the calendar change include allowing parents to schedule medical appointments and other commitments for Fridays, teachers can use the fifth day for professional development, and students who are failing classes or missing too much school can receive tutoring on Fridays.
The district intends to use a “Core Knowledge Sequence” program for the curriculum, which has a plan for an adapted pacing sequence.
According to Dolores School Board President Maegan Crowley, teacher retention was a major factor in the board’s vote. But there is also plenty of potential for volunteering or internships on Fridays with the new schedule.
“We’re looking for avenues for these kids on that fifth day that would be more community-based,” Crowley said. “Especially for the older kids, they can actually become part of the community and contribute.”
Plans are currently being made for potential offerings for children on Fridays. Ideas will be presented to the board at this month’s meeting.
The pay scale for bus drivers would be adjusted to compensate for their missed time.
Students would still have access to food services on Fridays.
The district administration plans on proposing a comprehensive plan that would keep all classified staff from any decrease in pay. The plan would still include annual raises.
State funding would not change for the district.
The public meeting will take place March 16 at 6 p.m. in the district’s board meeting room located at 100 N. Sixth St. In-person attendance will be limited, but questions can also be asked over Zoom. The Zoom link will be available on the school district’s website.