Schools move to shorter week

Waterville Schools will move to a four-day week this fall. (Empire Press photo/Suzanne Robinson)

 

By Suzanne Robinson
Empire Press Correspondent

Waterville Schools Superintendent Tabatha Mires (Provided photo)

Waterville Schools are going to a four-day week in the fall for the 2018-2019 school year.

This spring, high school Principal Tabatha Mires and several other administrators attended a career fair for teachers. At that event in March, Mires said they learned about a waiver through the State Board of Education that was available to five school districts in the state, with 500 students or less, which would allow the schools to go to a four-day week. Four other districts had already applied and were granted the waiver. This left one open waiver available.

Mires along with Superintendent Cathi Nelson and members of the school board then began researching the benefits of the four-day model for Waterville.

Their findings showed that one benefit would be to attract qualified teachers to come to Waterville. With a shorter school week, this would also allow for up to 18 days of professional development for staff. Currently the staff receives only two days for professional development. Providing quality staff with ongoing professional development was a huge factor in the decision to go forward with the application for the waiver.

A school board meeting was held on April 25 for public comment on the proposed change. Waterville’s application was accepted by the State Board of Education in May.

The school district, however, will need to show accountability through surveys, statistics and academics for one full year. The results of the information collected will determine if the four-day school week waiver will continue. Based on the first-year report, according to Mires, Waterville Schools could go back to the original five-day school week.

The school week schedule will be Monday through Thursday beginning Aug. 27 from 7:47 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for high school (ninth-twelfth grades), and 7:47 a.m. to 3 p.m. for elementary and junior high (K-eighth grades). From 3 to 3:30 p.m., teaching staff will provide optional non-traditional enrichment classes for elementary and junior high students called Genius Time.

Mires said that the four days will be dedicated to academics only, with the enrichment activities being offered afterschool in a non-traditional setting to better prepare students for the future. She is excited about this opportunity and believes it will be a great benefit to the students and to the community.

Mires became superintendent at Waterville last month on a part-time basis, taking over some of the duties from Nelson who recently retired. Mires will also continue with her duties as high school principal on a part-time basis.