By Tony Farkas
APPLE SPRINGS — The Apple Springs school district is going to four-day week.
Beginning with the 2021-22 school year, students will attend Tuesdays through Fridays, with Monday now being off. The measure was approved at the April 12 School Board meeting.
Superintendent Cody Moree said the move was something he had proposed the year before COVID hit, but for various reasons, it didn’t gain momentum; however, since then, several districts — Latexo, Corrigan-Camden, Oakwood, Calvert — have made the move, with good results.
Interest then picked back up, Moree said, and with other districts doing it and the rumors of more, Apple Springs began to move in that direction.
“I guess the word got around that those districts that have done so are glad; I talked to a board member in Corrigan who said it’s the best thing they’ve ever done,” he said.
Moree said the district first surveyed the parents electronically, through email and Facebook, which came back with 85 percent of respondents in favor of it. A paper survey came back at more than 90 percent in favor.
“We felt like we had community support,” he said. “We’re going to try it and hopefully it will turn out good.”
Moree said the immediate benefit will be teacher recruitment and retention, because small school districts can’t offer the same pay scale as larger ones.
“We have to compete with that, but we hope by offering this it will help recruiting good people and keep the people we have,” he said.
Additionally, Moree said there is an academic benefit with teachers and students spending longer, concentrated time on subjects, and students will be in the same room with a teacher.
“In the long run, the 20 percent rule kicks in; there will be better attendance because appointments can be made on off-days, teachers can make appointments during the week; we’re running the buses 20 percent less so transportations costs should drop,” he said. “With all those things, we think we’ll improve what we’re doing.”
With students being home an additional day, child care requirements and the effect on the district was discussed, and Moree said the change will be an adjustment for parents and families. However, one of the unintended consequences of the district dealing with the shutdown and changes because of COVID was parents making such arrangements, so the effect should be minimal, he said.
“We appreciate the support,” Moree said. “We’re trying to be innovative and look for better ways to teach the kids.”