Public asked to weigh-in on possible attendance restructuring
Should Valdez City Schools adopt a four-day school week for students?
That is the question a committee formed at the urging of district superintendent Jacob Jensen has explored and is now asking the public to take a look at its findings.
“We’re just going to put it out there for the parents,” Ruth Knight said.
Knight, the district’s test coordinator, was tapped by Jensen to head a committee to explore the pros and cons of the four-day concept. Jensen received permission from the board to look at the possibility of a four-day week in November, 2011.
A meeting for parents and other concerned community members is slated for Thursday evening at the Valdez High School cafeteria. It will run 6:30 to 8 p.m. and includes a power point presentation of the committee’s findings, with time for questions, answers and public input.
The four-day concept has been bandied about the district for years, often at the urging of teachers from Valdez High School. However, state rules on the number of days students attend class prevented Valdez educators from exploring the idea. A recent change in how the Alaska State School Board counts school days allowed the district to takes its first hard look at the concept.
Valdez High School absenteeism skyrockets on Fridays according to school officials. Gilson Junior and Hermon Hutchens also experience lower attendance rates before weekends.
Out-of-town sporting events are often cited as a leading cause of why students aren’t coming to school on Fridays, but family trips to Anchorage are also a factor.
“I think it would be increasing the time kids spend in class,” Knight said.
The largest concern among those concerned is how the concept might affect elementary school students Jensen said in an interview from November.
Knight, who said she explored the four-day school concept when obtaining her Masters Degree, agreed. She said when structured correctly, research show young students adjust well.
District officials are urging the public to attend Thursday’s meeting to learn more about the concept and to contribute their feelings on the matter.