The Forsyth R-III School District could be going to a four-day school week next year.
On Monday, Dec. 9, the school district is hosting a community meeting at 6 p.m. in the performing arts center, where they will present their research findings and information on a potential change to a four-day school week.
The idea to change to a four-day school week began to form when the school district was challenged with hiring 27 new employees ahead of the 2019/2020 school year.
Forsyth Superintendent Jeff Mingus said what the district discovered was that they, along with many other school districts in Missouri, were faced with a reduction in applications and a lack of both quantity and quality applicants.
“We’re trying to present something to the community that will allow us to be more competitive to hiring great teachers when we have teachers leave,” said Mingus. “When we get a great teacher here, we want to be able to keep them as long as we can. So really it’s about attracting and retaining high quality teachers and employees.
“There’s a fewer amount of people going into education and we have to do everything we can to be competitive and get the best people we can to put in front of our kids.”
Mingus said, based on their research findings, they believe the district should at least consider the option of a four-day school week as a possibility for the district.
“Districts across the state of the Missouri have seen an increase in student attendance,” said Mingus. “They’ve seen an increase in teacher attendance, because people now have a day to schedule doctors appointments or orthodontist appointments and all those things that you have to take care of.
“Teachers are in the classroom more. Students are in the classroom more. Teachers are better prepared.
Kids are more engaged and more excited to be there. We see that student discipline has decreased. So when you put all of those in the pot together, that’s a mix that creates a great potential for great student learning.”
District officials will also address a number of the most popular questions that have arisen since they begun discussing this idea.
“We’re going to talk about specifically, how would this change impact hiring and retaining of teachers and staff. We’re going to talk about how the four-day school week would impact student achievement. Would the four-day school week create any issues for child care for our parents? We’ll talk about, does this change provide any financial savings for the district?” Mingus said. “We’re going to talk about what the school day would look like and how many days we’re going to be in session. How would this impact activities, practices, rehearsals and things like that? How will we handle snow days?”
Mingus added that what the district is proposing should be looked at as more of an amended school calendar, as there would still be some five-day school weeks.
“It would be a four-day school week, but we would have a few weeks during the year when we were in session five-days, just to accommodate the way weeks would fall for spring break or Thanksgiving break or Christmas break. There would be a few five-day weeks sprinkled in there,” Mingus said. “Mondays would be the days student would not be in session on a majority of the weeks. The school day length would run about 8 a.m. to 3:25 p.m.”
The amended school calendar being proposed would go from 1,067 instructional hours down to around 1,050 hours.
“So realistically we’re only going to lose a little over two days of instruction over the year with that change,” Mingus said. “That was one of our administration and board requirements, as we wanted those instructional hours to be very, very close to what we’re offering now.”
Mingus said the school district began their discussion several months ago and has spent the entire school year conducting research and preparing to present this information to the public. He said if positive support continues to form for this issue, the district will likely implement the amended school calendar for the 2020/2021 school year.
The meeting will be taking place at 6 p.m. in the Forsyth High School Performing Arts Center. The meeting will be recorded and posted to the district’s website, along with answers to any additional questions asked during the meeting for anyone who is unable to attend the meeting.
Visit forsythpanthers.org and go to the calendar tab to view a four-day school week fact sheet prepared by the district.