Assignment: Education - 4-Day School Week

Blair-Taylor School District Could Make State History

Published On: Feb 14 2012 07:16:23 PM CST
Assignment: Education - 4-Day School Week

BLAIR, Wis. - Time always seems to fly-by. And according to some educators at both the state and local levels, that can be a problem.

"What is the one thing that teachers lack during any day during the school year," asked Blair-Taylor Superintendent Dennis Dervestski. "And I asked the same question of the DPI. And the answer was time... quality time."

So, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has given the Blair-Taylor School District permission to move forward in solving this problem. The district's superintendent feels he has the answer.

"How can we give them the time? An open day," said Dervetski. "We can give that to teachers. We can give it to students. We can give it to community members."

The 4-day school week began in the United States in the late 1970s and is now practiced in 20 different states, but it would be new to Wisconsin.

"This is not only an evolution, it's a revolution in Wisconsin of something that's never been done," said Dervetski.

Historically, many school districts across the country have adopted this shortened school week to save money. But that isn't the reason for the proposed change in the Blair-Taylor District.

"I've never calculated the savings. Could I? Yes, I could. But the focus is learning," said Dervetski. "Now if the focus is saving, fine go with the savings if you want to close a door. We're looking at reinvesting the savings back into the open day to create better learners. There's the difference in philosophy. And most schools will go for the savings."

In Blair-Taylor, the administration wants to provide more opportunities on the open day.

"We could have credit recovery, reading classes, we could help people with resumes," said Dervetski. "We could help them with technology so they could become better learners."

But, of course, the community has some questions.

"As a stay at home mom, I don't have concerns with daycare. But I'm kind of curious as to how other people are going to get daycare," said Kim Smith, a parent of two children in the district.

And the district is already aware of this issue.

"If we do have an open day and we put our investment back in training for day care, for people that could do it, that might even create some employment and income for people around here," said Dervetski. "And there would still be quality day care."

So, while there are concerns among community members, many are willing to keep an open mind.

"So, if the 4-day actually offers the potential of them not getting bored, continuing to receive the education they get here, because they do get a fantastic education here, then I see no reason why it wouldn't work," said Smith.

And the superintendent is just as hopeful.

"We think we have the attitude. We think we have the aptitude and we think we have the will to carry this off and be successful," said Dervetski.

Now, time is ticking to see if they can get it done.