Whittell four-day week schedule discussed
April 17, 2009
LAKE TAHOE ” Douglas County School Board members said Tuesday they need more information before deciding on a four-day school week for George Whittell High School.
The board directed staff to answer questions on such issues as teacher contracts, costs and Friday activities at its Tuesday meeting.
About 79 percent of high school students are in one sport, Principal Sue Shannon said, and a student misses 35 class periods per year, on average, for extracurricular activities.
“This is driven by athletics, but it’s also an advantage for non-athletes,” Shannon said of the proposed four-day week.
Since so many students miss class for sports, teachers have to repeat lessons. If all the students were in the classroom more consistently, teachers could move forward with their lesson plans instead of constantly reviewing material.
So far about 80 percent of athletic competitions for 2009-10 are scheduled on either Fridays or Saturdays. The only sports that are difficult to schedule strictly on Fridays and Saturdays would be golf, skiing and playoffs, Shannon added. The schools in Whittell’s league are also considering a four-day school week.
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Board member Thomas Moore said the concept merits further research, and didn’t know if the board could make an informed decision in time for the four-day school week to take effect for the 2009-10 school year.
Shannon’s proposed timeline anticipated a board decision on the schedule on May 20.
Board member Sharla Hales agreed that more information is needed before proceeding, such as how to resolve contract issues with teachers and how the budget would be affected. “I don’t want to be negative, but I want to be thorough,” Hales said.
The board also expressed concern about how long the school days would be for students, and how the extended work day might fatigue teachers.
“You may not think this is going to wear on you, but I think it will,” board member Keith Roman said.
Board member Karen Chessell said the four-day week would be a challenge, but would like to see the discussion move forward.
“I want to see this opportunity move forward and to get these questions answered,” Chessell said. “I don’t like slamming doors in people’s faces.”
Many board members were curious to know what nonathletes could do on Fridays, especially seventh- and eighth-graders who attend Whittell following consolidation of schools at the lake.
The Friday enrichment activities would be sponsored by the booster club, so no liability would be attached to the school. Parent Kelly Krolicki is in charge of the task force that’s investigating programs.
Many organizations offer free programs, such as Sierra Nevada Journeys and the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival.
Some of the high school students would like to have SAT prep classes on Fridays, along with scholarship workshops and help with their college applications, Krolicki said.