Aberdeen School District changes to a modified five-day week

The Aberdeen School District trustees, on a 3-2 vote, rescinded the four-day school week for the next school year and replaced it with a modified five-day week. Trustees present were Ritchey Toevs, Marc Foster, Elaine Blik, Andrea Myler and Ken Woods. Toevs, Blik and Woods voted for the modified five-day week and Foster and Myler wanted to keep the four-day week.

The modified five-day week will basically be the same as the current school calendar except all students, kindergarten through 12th grade, will have early out on Friday. No early out will be held on Thursday. Because the high school will also be holding early out each week, school will begin 15 minutes earlier for them. They will need to be in school at 8 a.m. and release at 3:20 p.m. The middle school will be on the same schedule as the high school. By holding school-wide early out, buses will not have to run twice to get all the students home in the afternoon. Data Days will also be held once a month on Fridays.

Blik said she really likes the fact that this calendar has four full days of instruction. Her concern is the abuse of the half day on Friday. Parents need to realize they must have their kids in school. Mikki Leishman asked if this could end up costing the district money. She was told that was possible. Parents need to be aware of that. Blik said parents wanted school five days a week so they need to make sure their children are in school five days a week.

Toevs said the district will get one year of guaranteed protection. The funds the district receives from the state for the year are based on last year’s average daily attendance (ADA).

Myler said parents need to be aware that even on early out days, their student is missing all seven periods of the school day. Athletes are not counted as absent. She said she originally thought the modified five-day calendar was a good idea but then she studied the hours the students will be in school. With the modified five-day week, students will not be in school as long. They will be missing about 24 hours they could get on the four-day schedule.

Blik said she thinks all this discussion on the four-day school week has brought an awareness to the parents that the students need to go to school every day. She thinks they are maybe ready to step up to get them there and are up to the task. She thinks the four-day week is a card they should hold onto for the future.

Myler said she is really worried about ADA. If it goes down, that will cost the district. It does put the responsibility on the parents to make sure their children are in school. She said she doesn’t know if they will. She added she is also worried about the crash that is coming next year after Simplot closes. She feels going to a four-day week prepares them for what is coming. When people are out of work they don’t want to pay $30 a year more on their taxes to have an increase in the levy.

Superintendent Jane Ward said Bingham County is the only county in the area that doesn’t have truant court. They are working on changing that. Aberdeen’s policy states students need to be in school 90 percent of the time. If students attend school less than that, they will go to court. There will be a fine and parents may even be required to pay the school district the amount of money it cost them because the student was not in school. This will be up to the age of 16. After the age of 16, the court could take the student’s driver’s license away.

Ward added that Bingham County is looking at Bannock County and how they handle truant students. Aberdeen is not the only school in the county with the truancy problem.

Toevs said this decision comes with a lot of thought on the board’s side and input from the community.

Prior to the decision being made patrons gave comments to the trustees.

Leland Sorensen said when he was in the military and they marched, the smallest in the group set the pace, not the largest. This issue should be the same way. He spoke to mothers that said one of their children would be fine with a four-day week but one wouldn’t be fine. If the district goes with the four-day week, he suggested dropping Wednesday or Monday instead of Friday.

Dirk Driscoll said he applauded the school board in what they do. He has studied the pros and cons of both the four and the five day weeks. Some students will do well, some won’t. He asked the board to look at all things before they make a final decision.

Wayne Adams said he has children in the Snake River School District that are on the four-day week. They are average students and doing fine. The four-day week gives them more time as a family. It has not affected their test scores at all. They are a little tired by the time Friday arrives, but they are doing fine. He said his sister, however, wants to go back to the five-day. He has noticed his children don’t miss as much school. He has talked to other schools that are on a four-day week and they say their test scores have gone up. He added they enjoy Saturday games instead of having the games during the week.

Nate Tracy said he is teaching in Snake River. When he was teaching in Aberdeen he had the students for 270 minutes a week. In Snake River he has them for 340 minutes a week. He goes through so much more material on the four-day week and they have not had a problem with attendance. The teacher contact time has increased. He added he really likes the four-day week. They are on a trimester, not a semester.

Herb Bohrer said there is no data on the four-day week. He talked to John Murdock and he said the students at the top are better but the students on the bottom are a little worse. He said Aberdeen is not like any other school districts in the area. Aberdeen’s demographics are different. He added that most of the positives from the four-day can’t be proven. They will support what the board does.

Braiden Driscoll said they need to know if they really are going to save money. The district needs a long term solution and he doesn’t think this is it. If the four-day would solve the problem he would be for it.

Karl Vollmer said children only learn during a certain length of time. He feels that repetition, for five days a week of that golden time is the best.

Kim Wahlen said with those three to five hours of learning time, five days is better than four. He added that 59 percent approval rate on the levy doesn’t show people are for the four-day week.

Superintendent’s report

Ward reported they have been sending teachers to be trained on how to implement the Common Core State Standards. Administrators took an eighth grade sample test in an effort to identify how students will need to prepare themselves for the test in 2014. This will be an ongoing process throughout the next school year.

April is a testing month, Ward reported. The tests will include the IRI for grades K-3, the ISAT for grades 3-8 and 10, and end of course assessments for grades 6-12. The high school will also be piloting the new assessment to begin in 2014.

Ward thanked everyone who voted for the school district supplemental levy and added it is a vital part of the funding for the district.

With the recent rains, Ward reported the district has roof issues. Also, there is a boiler in need of repair and the middle school ventilation system needs repaired.

Administrator reports

High school principal Travis Pincock reported that students are notified about scholarships through the daily announcements.

TRiO comes every week to help prepare students for post secondary education.

Debbie Ellis took a group of students to a career fair on Feb. 19, according to Pincock.

He said Skylar Dahlberg, Isaac Flores and Shelby Feld all qualified for nationals at the state BPA event in Boise. Matt Wright and Stephanie Hernandez also did well.

Parent/teacher conferences will be held on Thursday, April 4, Pincock reported.

Seniors will be presenting their senior projects in April and juniors will be taking the SAT on April 17.

Middle school principal Ann Mennear reported the school held a lockdown drill on March 8. Students were reminded about the procedure prior to the lockdown drill.

Representatives for the Common Core in the middle school were named. Erika Ingersoll is the representative for English language arts and Scott Stranski is the math representative. Erin Johnson, Natalie Lewis, Ingersoll and Stranski all attended training on implementing subjects with the Common Core.

Mennear thanked Marisol Carillo for volunteering to be the track coach. The school has about 50 students who went out for track. She asked for parent volunteers to help with all those students.

ISATs are scheduled for the weeks of April 22 and 29.

The seventh and eighth grade students will have campus visits to ISU and CSI on April 9 and 12 respectively. These visits are funding and required by the GEAR UP grant.

Parent/teacher conferences will be Thursday, April 4. Homeroom teachers will be contacting parents to schedule appointments, if necessary. Parents will be asked to complete a parent survey during the conference.

Elementary school principal Robi Jo Colton said kindergarten registration had about 50 registered last week. There should be a few more coming. Ward said that is about typical at this time of year.

Colton said she set up five Respect Days for the fifth grade students and teachers. The high school student health council will plan and present activities during those days.

The spring IRI testing window and the ISAT testing window is from April 8 through May 10.

Neal Cassell and the gifted and talented (G/T) groups will continue classroom presentations. The next two will be presented by fifth grade G/T students and the focus will be drug awareness.

The students will be recognized for perfect attendance and good grades to try to increase attendance and academics, Colton reported.

Parent/teacher conferences will be held Thursday, April 4. During the conference parents/guardians will fill out a teacher evaluation survey, obtain fingerprinting cards and discuss the importance of ISAT testing.

Special services director David Vaughn said that with the sequestration Special Education will be cut five percent per district. That equals about $8,000 for Aberdeen’s school age students and $300 for pre-school age students. He said they will cut supplies and possibly personnel.

He reported Tonja Selman began working as the special education secretary on Feb. 1 and she is doing a wonderful job.

Vaughn submitted the Graduation Rate Appeal to the state for AYP. They were able to reduce the number of students the state had listed as dropouts from six to one. The other five students had moved to other districts and reenrolled there.

He will be working with his staff on Common Core standards and how they will address these in special education. There has not been a lot of discussion nationally on this, but it appears that is going to be addressed soon, he reported.

Selman is working with the special education teachers to ensure their students receive the accommodations they need to do well in the ISAT that will be given beginning April 8.

Consent items

The consent items of the Feb. 22 and 26 meeting minutes, February claims, county tax report, February financial report, building budget reports, and overnight trips were presented. The overnight trips were for cheerleaders to attend the state cheer competition in Boise March 14 and 15, the Academic Decathlon team to attend the state competition in Meridian March 14 through 16, and FFA to attend the State FFA Convention in Twin Falls April 10 through 13. All consent items were approved.

Business items

The high bid for the 1999 GMC Bluebird school bus was from Idaho Science and Technology Charter School. That bid was accepted.

A public hearing was held regarding the driver’s education fee increase. The current fees have been in place since 2004 and the fee being charged isn’t covering the expenses. Trustees voted to increase the fee to $130. That is a 13.04 percent increase. Pincock said this should make it so the school doesn’t have to pay any for the lessons.

The resignation of Laurie Roach was accepted. She will be moving to New Mexico in May because her husband has received an internship there.

Trustee input

Blik said she thinks now the community can come together. She feels good about the modified five-day week. She thanked everyone for the work they put in to the new calendar.

Foster thanked Toevs and the other board members. He announced this was his last meeting due to a residence change. He asked everyone to look at the board currently. Four of the five are volunteers, not elected. He hopes that changes. He said he will miss being on stage at graduation, congratulating all those who graduated. He thanked the staff, administrators and the patrons and hopes that the next board meeting will have as many patrons in attendance.

Woods said it has been great to sit on the board. He thinks the decisions made tonight were good. He thinks this will work.

Myler said she has enjoyed serving on the board. She complimented Wayne Millett. He has been involved in directing three musicals, doing the sets, the jazz band dinner dance that has 50 more served than before, the concert and then the high school band is going to Disneyland. He just keeps going. The music department brings in very large trophies. She also congratulated the cheerleaders. They cheer all year long and they brought home a trophy from state.

She apologized to the teachers and administrators if she has done anything to offend them. She has never heard one say they want a day off. Aberdeen has great teachers. She added that the five-day week doesn’t solve the problems.

Toevs thanked the community for supporting the levy. He apologized if he hurt anyone. He thanked Marisol Carrillo for stepping in and coaching the middle school track. He thanked Laurie Roach for teaching in Aberdeen. He thanked Nate Tracy for coming from Snake River to present his experience with the four-day week. He said he saw Fiddler on the Roof and it was great. ADA is important on this calendar and he hopes everything works out. He said he will miss Foster on the board.

The April board meeting will be in the Springfield Fire Station Wednesday, April 17, at 7 p.m.

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