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Van-Far School Board discusses 4-day school week

Posted on Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 12:06 pm

By Ben Marshall

VANDALIA—The idea of moving to a four-day school week was discussed again at the Van-Far school board meeting held Thursday, Oct. 17.
Van-Far Superintendent Tony DeGrave opened the floor for public comments on a possible four-day school week after making comments of his own.
DeGrave said he had visited area schools and noted, “There is no data that supports how that (a four-day school week) makes you better or worse.”
He added that, “I do have concerns on both sides. We have a population of students that need to be exposed to great people. We also have a population of students who are exposed to great people both here and at home.
“Secondly, I feel we are headed toward an educator crises. I feel like there is going to be depleted staff to pick from in the future, and that is concerning for me.”
He noted that there are state statutes that say Van-Far cannot start school in 2020 until Aug. 24. “We must have 36 hours of snow make up days. Also we must have a minimum of 1,044 hours.
“If you go to a four-day school week,” he added, “you need to expand the school day to make up those hours.”
Pete Nasir the superintendent of Wellsville, Mo., was asked to speak first.
Nasir said that one of the biggest concerns that his district had on this issue was what would they do with the children on Monday. They had started a day care, however, that was soon abandoned because of a lack of participation.
Nasir said that many schools have chosen to go to a four-day school week because it seems to be attractive to many teachers.
However, he also said, “It can save some money, it just depends. Quite frankly, the most amount of money you’re going to save, aside from transportation—because that one day you don’t drive your buses, is going to be on the backs of your support staff.”
Miss Childs, a Van-Far High School teacher was ask to speak next. She said, her concerns were about the quality of education the children would receive.
In an expanded school day she said, “Each teacher has 51 minutes. You can’t do much with an extra 5 minutes, and so those 5 minutes take away 16 days. That is 16 lessons, 16 concepts they are going to miss out on to become prepared for what they are going to see in the future.”
She also said that she was concerned that there already is a lot the school is doing to help bridge many gaps.
She mentioned “Blessings in a Bag,” “Bright Futures,” and other things being used to reach and teach students.
She was also concerned that a four-day school week would actually make the gaps that already exist bigger.
She said “I think we have to look at what is best for the kids I think that there is a whole lot more to it and that it is not a simple thing.”
Kris Cross also was ask to speak and her words reflected much of what Miss Childs had already said.
Van-Far School Board member Jim Hopke ask Pete Nasir if it made any impact on extra curricular activities.
Pete Nasir responded with most those remain the same as before as if it were a five day school with the exception of some game practises and such.
In closing the discussion, Superintendent Tony DeGrave thanked everyone for their attending and participation.
Van-Far High School principal Mrs. Pafford reported that the Van-Far Speech Team placed first at the Moberly tournament. She added that they had renewed the head concussion insurance that allows to cover that completely. She mentioned that Van-Far participated in Hannible Band days on the eighth. The High School held parent teachers conferences on the third with a 31 per cent attendance. FFA Convention will be Oct. 29th through November second in Indianapolis. The High School veterans day will be held on the morning of the Nov.8th and not the 12th. The eighth grade will be participating in a reality store visiting Harts Career Center november 7th. She also reported that student council has requested to have a speaker on Vaping.
Van-Far Elementary Principal Brian Hummel reported that they held parent teacher conferences on Oct.. 3 with about a 97 per cent attendance. voluntary eye screenings were done at both schools by Precision Eye Care. Gentle Healthy Smiles also gave voluntary dental screenings. Monday Oct. 21 will be picture retakes for anyone who was absent, and new students to the district. Oct. 28-Nov.1st is Red Ribbon Week and they will be celebrating drug awareness. Elementary will be having their Veterans Day Celebration on Nov. 8 at 1;30 p.m. Nov. 11 there will be a P.E day. Starting Nov 1 they will having a food drive at the Elementary called 18 days of giving where the kids are asked to bring a certain item to be donated to the local food pantry.
Other action items were to approve MSBA 2019B Policy Updates. Board vote approved 6/0.
The board approved Bus Routes for 2019-20 6/0.
Board approved to seek bids