Wright Schools Consider Taking Fridays off
Once a year, the Campbell County School Board holds their regularly scheduled meeting in Wright. It’s the perfect time to celebrate the accomplishments of students and staff, like presenting a plaque to the Wyoming History Teacher of the Year, Rhonda McPherson, who happens to teach in Wright. The Wright Future Farmers of America Chapter also took the opportunity, this week, to show off their parliamentary skills and argue the pros and cons of adopting an alternative four-day school week.
The Parliamentary Team competes in Parliamentary Procedure Leadership Development Events against other FFA teams. Students are judged on their ability to conduct a meeting using parliamentary procedure. As FFA Sponsor Randall Haefele explained to the school board Tuesday, the tricky part is completing your meeting in 10 minutes.
Their discussion was fast paced, but clearly demonstrated the community’s differing opinions on making the switch, which leans heavily in favor of the shortened school week.
Both principals in Wright updated the board on the opinions they’ve gathered since they stared discussing the four-day school week last spring.
Cottonwood Elementary Principal Derek Barnhurst said in addition to taking the pulse of the staff and students, he also talked to the Wright Recreation Center and Wright Branch Library, since they would see the biggest impact from the change.
“Our community is great on those early outs, the rec center always has a swim for us, or the library does a movie almost every early out. They really are great working with us and keeping our kids busy.”
The library has various activities and clubs kids could participate in on Fridays. The Rec Center would treat Friday’s very similarly to the way they run their summer programs, with a morning and afternoon swim.
“What’s best for our kids is really the bottom line,” Barnhurst explained to the board. “Is it really going to put teachers in front of kids more often, with quality time, than our schedule works right now?”
The next step is a short survey parents will take during upcoming parent teacher conferences. The application to move to an alternative schedule is due to the state school board by March 5, 2019.
“I think in small communities like Wright, like Custer, basically every community I’ve ever been in, a four-day week, to me, lends itself to be more efficient for kids and staff,” added Wright Junior Senior High Principal Kirby Baier.
According to Baier, there have been a total of 289 excused absences on the first seven Fridays of this new school year. Taking a look at the previous school year, just over 50 percent of absences occurred on Friday’s as well.
Deputy Superintendent Kirby Eisenhauer said the application to the state will be to adopt the alternative schedule for two years.
“If it’s a fifty-fifty split, it’s probably something that we either need to re-educate or look into deeper. We want a strong majority of the people supporting this before we make a change,” said Eisenhauer.
He said the issue of a shortened school week was a topic of discussion the first year he was principal in Wright in 2003. At that time there wasn’t enough support to move forward in the process. However, support does not appear to be lagging in the current endeavor.
Board Chair Anne Ochs echoed that she has not seen any evidence of opposition.