The four-day school week will continue for another year in the Pelican Rapids School District.
In discussions at the school board meeting Dec. 18, members arrived at a concensus to continue the short-week schedule for the 2018-19 school year.
Last year, the board tentatively scheduled 2017-18 as the final school year for the four-day week –but has now reconsidered.
“We asked the board for some time, to be reflective and have more discussions with the community,” said Superintendent Randi Anderson, who is midway through her first year leading the Pelican district.
“This will give us a year to gather input from the community, from families, post-graduates and others.”
The four-day week was implemented in 2011, largely as a budget-cutting initiative. On average, the four day week has saved taxpayers about $100,000 a year –the largest share being bus transportation expenses.
In annual surveys and reviews by the board and community, the reaction to the four-day week has been widely popular among parents, students and staff.
The abbreviated week has generally increased attendance and reduced discipline problems.
However, the impact of the shortened week on academic performance has been determined neutral, or inconclusive.
“This is really a gift of time, to ensure that we’re producing the best environment for our students,” said Anderson, noting that the school board was “100 percent behind” the extension of the four-day week for another year.
Pelican is one of the relatively few school districts operating on an abbreviated schedule. The Minnesota Department of Education, under Governor Mark Dayton, have generally encouraged school boards to move back to five day school weeks –though Pelican and other distracts have consistently received state approval to continue. Anderson anticipates that the state education department won’t object to the additional year at a four-day schedule.
Anderson said that data from a fall online survey of the community is in the process of being evaluated, and more input is being sought.
Information from the survey is expected to be presented formally to the board in February, and will aid the board in further discussion of scheduling for 2018-19.