Cleveland and Dayton not likely to join trend soon
A trend has been underway at some Texas school districts to move to a four-day school week and now you can add Tarkington ISD to the mix.
TISD will join 41 other districts across Texas that have already made a move, including four from Liberty County. Devers ISD made a move in 2019 and since has been joined by Hardin, Hull-Daisetta, and Liberty ISDs.
TISD School Trustees voted last week to enter a pilot program for the 2023-24 school year.
“The calendar was unanimously approved after our team presented to the Board of Trustees, responding to their previous and current questions/ concerns,” said TISD Superintendent Dr. Elna Davis.
With the new schedule comes new school times throughout the district. While the start time will remain the same, students will stay an additional 16 minutes each day.
The reasoning behind that additional time is related to the changes in Texas law passed in 2016 when requirements changed from 180 days of school instruction to 75,600 instructional minutes each year. That change allowed school systems to design schedules that best fit their districts.
Davis believes the decision will go a long way to attracting the best teachers to the district and, in turn, improve the education system for students.
“In a world full of choice, we must all remember that our teachers have a choice too. We are grateful to all the teachers that have chosen to share their passion for students in TISD and it is my hope that this calendar will attract and keep our high-quality educators moving into the future while providing them much needed time to plan for our students,” said Davis.
Devers was one of the first schools to move in Texas and the first in Liberty County. In that time, they have been recognized repeatedly for their efforts in education, including winning the National Blue Ribbon School award.
Following the announcement, social media buzzed with folks in the county's largest districts, Cleveland and Dayton, pondering the possibility of their schools making such a move. So, we asked those districts, and they are not likely to see any changes to school schedules anytime soon.
"It has been a topic of discussion, but if you'll notice, almost all the districts in Texas doing the 4-day week are much smaller," said Cleveland ISD Superintendent Stephen McCanless.
Of the 41 schools currently utilizing a 4-day week, only three districts are larger than a Class 3A school, with Liberty, Mineral Wells and Athens being the largest; each is classified as 4A.
CISD has nearly as many students as the county's other six districts combined, with 11,790 students.
According to McCanless, CISD is not considering a move and has created a schedule that gives students and staff needed time off while offering pay that would entice educators to come to the district.
"We have adopted a new District of Innovation calendar, offer one of the highest teacher salaries in the Houston area, have some of the best insurance and benefit coverages available, have many new, state-of-the-art facilities, and a fleet of new buses for our students," said McCanless.
The calendar allows for numerous breaks throughout the year for students and faculty, with weeklong holidays in October, November, and February, along with traditional Christmas and Spring Break periods. The district also has a week off around July 4th for staff over the summer.
As for Dayton, the district will continue as usual. The Assistant Superintendent of Student Services, Travis Young, only says, "it is a possibility in the future" that they would look into the 4-day week system.
An article published in 2019 by the National Conference of State Legislatures listed several benefits to 4-day school weeks for small cost savings, improved attendance, and the appeal in recruiting teachers to districts.
The same article also listed negatives such as longer school days, issues related to finding childcare, and pointed to problems for some children having access to meals on non-school days.
Others impacted by the change are often hourly employees that will lose a fifth of the wages they have grown to depend on.
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