By Tony Farkas
TRINITY — Parents, students and staff members discussed the numbers surrounding a plan by the Trinity ISD to consider a 4-day school week.
At a public meeting on Thursday, Superintendent Dr. John Kaufman provided information about the necessity of the plan and the results of several surveys that were done over the last few weeks.
Kaufman said that there is a statewide and national teacher shortage that affects all districts, but smaller districts feel the pinch even more because of limited resources. Combine that with most other districts in the area converting to 4-day schedules, and Trinity could have problems recruiting teachers.
“Sixty districts are now at 4-day schedules, and I don’t want to lose quality teachers to surrounding districts that offer 4-day schedules,” he said. “I also don’t want to lose anyone working here already.”
He also said that teacher and student morale has been shown to improve, and that disciplinary referrals actually decreased with the changed schedule.
Kaufman said that 373 parents, responsible for 536 students in the district, responded to an emailed survey, and of that, 71.24 percent were in favor of the switch. He also pointed out that for students who rely on school meals, the parents were largely in favor of taking home bagged meals if necessary.
Additionally, 65 percent of parents said they would not need day care.
Of the 546 students that responded to a survey, 92.65 percent were in favor of the plan, and that transportation to extracurricular events held on off days would not be too large a problem.
Of the 176 staff responses, 93.18 percent favored a shorter week, and almost 23 percent said they would be included to leave the district for one that offered a shorter schedule.
Kaufman said a loss like that would be tough to overcome, especially if other districts had the 4-day schedule.
The superintendent stressed that there would be minimal impact to the days of instruction, with the sole exception of Lansberry Elementary which would start class 5 minutes earlier. A mock calendar showed all holidays and school breaks were unchanged, and that the district would have 165 days of instruction.
He also said the change would not affect pay for educators or support staff, nor would it affect extracurricular activities such as sports, band or FFA.
Kaufman stressed that no decisions have been made, and that the board will take the matter up at its April 24 meeting; however, he was adamant that the students deserved to have the best teachers possible in front of them, and that this proposal could help in recruiting.
Several teachers in the audience stated the change would allow them to get things done, from personal errands and appointments to grading and personal development, and leave the weekend for family time.
Student Cole Hortman said that since the sports teams all are members of group chats, transportation to games would not be a problem either.
Kaufman said a calendar committee would review the proposal and offer any criticisms, and the matter will be on the board agenda at the end of the month.