First of two public hearings on four-day school week nears

Andrew D. Brosig/Torrington Telegram file Students make their way to the Lincoln Elementary building on a damp, gray first day of school on on Aug. 21, 2018, in Torrington. Goshen County School administrators are debating the pros and cons of switching to a four-day school week and invite public comment at the first of two open meetings on the topic Monday at 7 p.m. in the Torrington High School Auditorium.

GOSHEN COUNTY – Will Goshen County students and teachers stick to a five-day schedule, or will the district move to a four-day school week? 

The first of two public hearings regarding the matter is set for Monday, Jan. 21 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Torrington High School Auditorium.

For more than a year, the Four-Day School Week Committee has presented at several Goshen County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees meetings about the benefits of the proposed change, with the focus on increasing student achievement district-wide by moving professional development and collegial meetings to Fridays. Committee members say the adjustment will ensure teachers are in the classroom and principals are in the building as much as possible while giving teachers the necessary time to plan and design work.

The committee has emphasized the No. 1 goal of the proposed new schedule is student achievement, and it is not intended as a cost-saving measure. However, research shows there could be as much as a 3 to 7 percent cost savings should such a change be implemented.

During a recent Telegram social-media poll asking whether residents are for or against the change, several residents expressed concerns about the cost of childcare on Fridays, and feared decreased student productivity. As of Monday, 52 percent of 830 voters were in favor of a new schedule, with 48 percent against.

Lynn Sepanen, who opposes the four-day school week, told the Telegram she has several issues with the matter.

“I believe that young children already have trouble focusing by the end of the day. Removing a productive morning (Friday morning) will likely be more harmful then beneficial,” she said, adding she hopes to see numerous questions addressed in the coming weeks, including: “What is the district trying to achieve with this change? Documented proof that their goal has been achieved in other school districts. An example of a sample schedule. When would after school activities take place? If there is a practice after a school day, what is the estimated time those children will be getting home? Number of hours children will be in school? Number of hours children who ride with bus will be away from their homes? What are the expectations for the faculty on Fridays? How will this schedule affect homework expectations? Can the decision be put to a vote during election time?”

In a presentation to the trustees in November, Four-Day School Week Committee member Mike Lashley said funding applications, along with several other considerations, including food-service and student remediation and enrichment programs on Fridays, cannot move forward until a decision is made.

Look for another article in the Telegram detailing Monday’s hearing. The second hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 5 from 7 to 9 p.m., also at the THS auditorium.


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