The Four-Day "Plus" Plan
In the Spring of 2000, the Vale School District Board of Directors asked former Superintendent Al Butler to study the four-day week concept to see if it would help achieve three goals:
- Provide additional academic time to those students who are below benchmark;
- Provide blocks of time for teachers to meet and work on ways to improve teaching and learning;
- Reduce the amount of instructional time lost to athletic travel.
Because of the contractual implications of a four-day week, it was important to involve the Vale Education Association. The VEA represents all the employees making Vale one of the few “wall-to-wall” associations in Oregon. The VEA President, Tim Noland, accompanied a group of administrators and board members on a visit to the Grant Union School District. They had been on a four-day plan for several years. After that visit, that group decided to formulate a plan for Vale and present it to all staff members for their opinion.
A staff committee drew up a plan for Vale that kept both students and staff hours the same as they were under the five-day schedule. After considering a number of daily schedules, the committee recommended adding half-hour to the beginning and end of each of the 148 instructional days. This retained the 1032 hours of student instruction.
Once a tentative plan was agreed upon, presentations were made to staff . The group making the presentation was composed of teachers, classified employees, and administrators.
Staff presentations were made to the teachers at each building and to all the classified groups including drivers, cooks, custodial/maintenance, and aides. Following each presentation, the group was asked to vote on whether or not they agreed with the four-day plus plan. The five-part Likert scale rating from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree was used.
Seventy-four percent favored the plan, nine percent opposed it, and seventeen percent were undecided. After presenting the complete results to the board, they directed the superintendent to make the presentations to parents.
Two meetings were set up at each of the schools in an attempt to keep the meetings small so that every question could be answered. At the end of each presentation parents were asked to complete the same survey that staff did. Sixty-one percent agreed with the plan, sixteen percent were opposed, and twenty-four percent were undecided. Most of the concern from parents centered on the Fridays. When the board saw the results of the parent vote, they decided to proceed with the Four-Day “Plus” Program beginning with the 2000-01 school year.
Two types of Fridays were established, Off-Fridays and Part-Fridays. On Off-Fridays, students, teachers, building secretaries, aides, drivers, and cooks do not work. Central office, custodians and maintenance are at work. Administrators and supervisors meet all morning with the superintendent.
On Part-Fridays, students who need additional academic help attend from 8:00am to 10:00am at Vale Elementary and 8:00 - 11:30am in all other schools. A skeletal system of bus routes was available the first year but discontinued in subsequent years because of lack of students riding the buses. The students meet with their teachers and work in small groups. After students are dismissed teachers work on curriculum until 2:30pm.
Progress to Date
In the first few years, as you might expect, many unanticipated glitches surfaced. Most deal with the weekly schedule of staff and those problems have been ironed out.
The Part-Fridays have been the most rewarding. The buildings plan the activities. At the elementary and middle school, the non-benchmark students were invited but not required to attend. Attendance has been excellent with nearly 100% of the invited students coming in.
At the middle school, in addition to working with non-benchmark students, time has been set aside for any student to attend. We have been pleasantly surprised at the participation by those students. The high school staff require students to attend and attendance has been very high. They too allow any student to come in and over a third of the students do.
We also found that absenteeism by both staff and students has declined, especially with coaches who had to take off Friday afternoons to travel to away games. There has been some financial savings, mostly in transportation and food service. Neither the drivers nor cooks work on Fridays.
Test scores have improved, but whether or not it is directly related to the additional instruction time that students receive on Part-Fridays is difficult to prove. The “gut feeling” of teachers is that it has improved academic performance.
For more information on Vale’s Four-Day “Plus” Plan, feel free to get in touch with us:
|Mary Jo Sharp||HS Principal||541-473-0260|
|Alisha McBride||VE/WC Principal||541-473-0210|
|Jeri Schaffeld||VMS Principal||541-473-0240|
|Dave Eyler||VEA President||541-473-0275|
|Topper Schlupe||Board Chair||541-473-4834|