ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

'Better for our kids': Billings County considers four-day school week

Eric Bock and Mike Klatt of the Billings County School Board met with a teacher and assistant principal of Prairie Elementary on Monday to discuss the possibility of reducing the school week from five to four days. "The entire goal is to try to m...

Eric Bock and Mike Klatt of the Billings County School Board met with a teacher and assistant principal of Prairie Elementary on Monday to discuss the possibility of reducing the school week from five to four days.

"The entire goal is to try to make the education and quality of life better for our kids," said Danielle O'Brien, assistant principal of Prairie Elementary.

The countywide change could reduce the amount of time some students at the school spend on the bus by about 20 percent, she said. Some of the school's students spend three hours a day on the bus.

Though the number of school days would be reduced, the school would add thirty minutes to each day to ensure the students would not lose time with their teachers.

Some staff and teachers would still be available at the school on Fridays, where they will provide tutoring to students on a voluntary basis three Fridays per month, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The bus would still run those days to transport students and lunch would also be provided. The other Friday would be dedicated to professional development.

ADVERTISEMENT

Tutoring would be on a sign-up basis and have a specific focus.

"So that's essentially not going to turn into a four-hour day care. We want the intervention to be effective and helpful," O'Brien said.

The extra day before the weekend would give teachers planning and grading time, so they wouldn't have to work as much on the weekend.

"More than likely, we're probably still going to be around on Fridays," said Dickie Jo Kubas, teacher at Prairie Elementary. "It would basically allow us to not come up here on weekends. ... I can't even think of three weekends that I haven't been here, throughout the school year."

O'Brien said the change might improve student and staff attendance, as Fridays could be used to schedule dentist and doctor appointments.

The board members expressed some concerns.

Child care could become an issue for families on Fridays when their kids aren't in school. The kids who don't come to tutoring would receive one less school meal a week. Longer hours in the school day may be harder on young kids, potentially requiring teachers to adapt their teaching style. Students who leave school early for activities such as sports would lose more time, since the school day would be longer.

They included these concerns as well as potential benefits in a list of points they will use to create a video to educate parents. They will also mail a survey to parents.

ADVERTISEMENT

"I think at this point we're not necessarily looking at answers as we are for questions," said Kubas. "We want to know what questions are out there so we can hopefully find some of those answers."

If it's something that the majority of parents oppose, they would likely not move forward with it, said O'Brien.

"It's not something we're trying to force on people," she said.

If approved, the schedule would change next school year, and the district would join approximately 560 others in the country. The practice is most prevalent in western states, especially rural areas.

Many of these districts changed their schedules to save money, but North Dakota's Department of Public Instruction will not allow that to be the reason for the decision, said Bock.

"I get that," O'Brien said. "You don't want to put a price on the education of a kid."

What To Read Next
With HB 1205, Reps Mike Lefor and Vicky Steiner would prohibit "sexually explicit content" in public libraries. Facing an uphill battle, the pair remain united in their commitment to see it passed.
The North Dakota Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.
City accountant reports increases in oil impact, sales tax, hospitality tax and occupancy tax revenue during the Jan. 24 meeting, commission approves two policy amendments.
Testimony to the top House committee from a convicted attendee of the Jan. 6 rally focused on the "inhumane" treatment of Jan. 6 defendants. The committee rejected a resolution on the matter 12-0.