Plateau Valley School District cuts costs with four-day week
Plateau Valley School District 50 students will have Fridays off this year as the district goes to a four-day week.
The district discussed the change as budget news continually worsened throughout the 2009–10 school year, District 50 Superintendent Greg Randall said.
He said the district decided to make the change when district leaders found out they had to cut 8 percent of the district’s 2010–11 budget, which was a little more than $3.5 million before cuts.
Going to a four-day week took care of about one-third of the $300,000 budget shortfall, Randall said. The district found savings in transportation, support staff and somewhat in heating and cooling costs by closing school on Fridays.
The district also put off buying textbooks for a year, cut back on supplies, trimmed teacher and administrator contracts by 2 1/2 days and eliminated “a few” teaching positions to save money, according to Randall.
School hours were extended, changing from 8:15 a.m. to 3:35 p.m. to 8 a.m. to 4:06 p.m., to help make up for the loss of Friday classes. About once a month, the district plans to have classes on Friday mornings for students who want extra help.
Randall said he hasn’t heard many reactions from parents or students, but the opinions he has heard about the four-day week range from concern about finding Friday day care to families happy to spend three-day weekends together.
“There’s some concern with younger kids and a longer day,” Randall said. “Like always, kindergartners have the option to do a half-day if they want.”
Locals already are trying to find a place for students to be on their new day off.
A local church and the cattlewomen’s group are pondering a program one or two Fridays each month that would include lunch, day care and an educational activity involving cattle work, Randall said.
Randall said whether the new schedule is permanent or temporary will depend on the public’s feelings about four-day weeks and news from the state about budgeting.