South Routt schools adapting to four-day week
Student days: 148
Teacher days: 174
Elementary schedule: 8:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., Monday through Thursday
Total instruction hours, elementary: 1,036 (required 990)
Secondary schedule: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday
Total instructional hours, secondary: 1,087 (required 1,080)
Student days: 166
Staff days: 179
Elementary schedule: 8:30 a.m.to 3:40 p.m., Monday through Friday
Total instructional hours, elementary: 1,105
Secondary schedule: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday
Total instructional hours, secondary: 1,137
Oak Creek — The South Routt School District joined more than 70 other districts statewide with its decision this year to move each of its campuses to a four-day school week.
Superintendent Darci Mohr said Tuesday she hasn’t heard much negative feedback about the district’s new schedule, but she is working on a survey to gather community input after the end of the first semester.
Mohr said fewer instructional days each week has encouraged teachers to be more intentional and step up the rigor of their lessons.
“Instructionally, the pace has increased in the classrooms,” Mohr said. “You can kind of feel it when you walk in the door.”
Last spring, the district surveyed about 80 parents, 50 community members and 41 staff members about the possible change to a four-day week, with about 75 percent in favor of switching to the new schedule.
District officials estimated then that the change would save about $12,000 to $15,000 annually, mostly in transportation and food service costs.
On about half of the Fridays, teachers still come to work, and they have been pursuing projects to help align expectations for kindergarten through 12th-grade students in a given subject.
“We’re hitting it very hard,” Mohr said.
Teachers of the same subject area for different grade levels work together to make sure that student expectations from one year to the next are well-aligned.
“It’s a community of teachers working together so they’re all interdependent on one another, and no one is in a silo,” Mohr said. “With large chunks of time, you can get a lot more done. I’ve been very pleased with the amount of progress that’s been made.”
Students who now have their Fridays free are finding a variety of ways to fill the extra time.
The Town of Oak Creek has taken its existing after-school program and partnered with the school district to begin offering all-day programming on Fridays for elementary students for $25 a day.
“We’ve had days with about a dozen kids, which is huge for us,” said Mary Alice Page-Allen, Oak Creek town administrator.
The program includes homework help and planned outdoor activities, including trips to go swimming, snowshoeing or to Stagecoach Reservoir.
For older students, the town is also helping with programming and has an upcoming hunter safety class planned.
Page-Allen said the town works with many partners, including a strong partnership with Stagecoach State Park, and receives many in-kind donations that help with keeping kids occupied.
“We’re looking at Fridays as a new opportunity for enrichment,” she said.
The Yampa Public Library changed its schedule and is now open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays, a day it was previously closed. The Oak Creek Public Library is also open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays.
When making the decision to move to a four-day week last spring, school board members and district staff said they thought the move would be attractive to future teachers and allow students and teachers to focus heavily on academics during the four-day week, while scheduling sports and other extracurriculars primarily on Fridays and Saturdays.
While South Routt is the only Routt County school currently using a four-day calendar, 77 of the 178 school districts across the state have all schools on a four-day calendar and another five have some schools on a four-day week.
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For many, the days of riding the school bus have long passed, but watching students through the back windows of a bus that is stopped at a stop sign can bring back memories.