Garfield Re-2 goes to 4-day school week
Better-than-expected state funding hasn’t altered the Garfield County Re-2 School District’s plans to convert to a four-day school week next fall, and the district has settled on Friday as the day no classes will be held.
The school board for the district, which extends from New Castle to Rifle, recently gave final approval to its calendar for the next school year. It is proceeding with the four-day week despite learning that it will get $524,000 more than anticipated in state funding. That’s slightly more than what Garfield Re-2 expects to save with the shorter school week.
But district spokeswoman Theresa Hamilton said the state funding news came too late. She said the district needed to make its decision on the four-day week earlier and teachers and administrators already have begun making plans for the change.
Instead, the district is using the unexpected money to avoid school-level cuts that would have included teaching positions.
With costs such as Public Employees’ Retirement Association of Colorado payments continuing to rise, the district still is having to make other cuts. Among them are eliminating gym cooling and after-school programs not funded by grants, and cutting spending by 7 percent within the district office.
The four-day week will mean reduced hours for nearly 200 non-teaching staff and result in seven of them becoming part-time employees who don’t receive benefits. Savings also are expected in areas such as transportation, food services and utilities.
Garfield County School District 16, which serves an area including Parachute and Battlement Mesa, also has decided to switch to a four-day week, both for budget reasons and because the district hopes it will boost academic performance. The district chose to have no school on Mondays, when school already is canceled often due to holidays.
Hamilton said Garfield Re-2 also looked at Mondays, but because a lot of high school sporting events draw students out of school then. However, the same is true on Fridays, and the district also must pay for more substitute teachers on Fridays because there are more sick days and personal leave.
She said the district plans to do its teacher training on Fridays so teachers are spending their time in the classroom with students the rest of the week.
“Those four days of instruction we’re going to try to keep sacred,” she said.