Jeff Davis School Board seeking input in four-day school week proposal

Published 9:18 pm Thursday, September 21, 2023

The Jeff Davis Parish School Board is hoping to receive parental and community feedback on the possibility of moving to a four-day school week next school year.

The School Board unanimously approved surveys Thursday to solicit input from students, parents/guardians, business stakeholders and community members on a proposed plan to shorten the school week to four days.

The surveys will issued Oct. 2-16 on the school district’s website and social media with results to be discussed by the School Board at its Oct. 19 meeting.

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Superintendent John Hall said the board will use the information to determine whether it should move forward on plans to shorten the instructional week.

“The board just wants to know what the public and our stakeholders’ ideas are going to a four day school week,” Hall said.

School Board President Paul Trahan said the school district will know more about how the four-day will affect operations and what the public thinks about the possibility of a shorter school year once the surveys are conducted.

“I would like to see what our surveys show because it doesn’t affect me,” Trahan said. “I also want to make sure the surveys are informative and but not over cumbersome for our stakeholders and our faculty because I feel like everybody is going to look at it differently how it affects them.”

Technology Supervisor Laurie Duhon said she had not made a decision on the four-day school week. Duhon said she works for the school system and does not have children in school, but would do whatever the school system wanted.

Transportation Supervisor and Child Welfare and Attendance Director Wilbert Guilbeaux said school districts which have implemented the four-day school week have reported a boost in attendance. He said having Mondays off instead of Fridays helps with doctor appointments since many doctors are closed on Fridays.

“Many of the districts have seen their attendance rate slightly go up, but I don’t have the data on that or the effect on school performance scores,” Guilbeaux said.

Hall said he is unsure how a four-day school week would affect finances, instruction time or if it would save the district any money or ease staffing concerns.

“I would be interested to know how it affects transportation, food service and central staff,” board member Summer Lejeune said. “We don’t want the staff to be stressed out having to do in four days what they usually do in five.”

The survey will include several questions as well as a comment section concerning a hybrid four-day school week for students and staff. Hybrid means that students would attend eight five-day school weeks – three in August and 5 in April/May for state testing, while the remainder would be four-day weeks.

“The board is not just going to get answers to questions, they are going to get comments on each of the surveys which could bring up points we hadn’t even thought of before,” Hall said.

Under the plan, buses arrival times, breakfast and start and ending of the school day will likely change to meet instructional minutes.

Athletic events would still occur as scheduled on non-school days with practices taking place after the end of each regular school day and may be allowed on non-school days.

All McNeese dual enrollment classes will remain as scheduled. Students scheduled for online classes on non-school days would still be required to participate in and complete work for dual enrollment classes on non-school days.

The survey also gives the options of choosing to have Mondays or Fridays off.

School officials and the community have been exploring a four-day school week since March, but delayed any official action until a survey could be conducted to gauge the community’s response.