BOARD PASSES THE 4 DAY MODIFIED FRIDAY CALENDAR FOR 2023-'24
The Peaster Board of Trustees thanks the members of our committee who spent countless hours over the past seven months researching the viability of the four-day school week and presenting numerous options for the Board to consider. Our committee was comprised of district administrators, teachers, and parents. Ultimately, we must do what is best for the students of PISD to ensure they receive the best education that we can possibly provide them.
Over the last several years, like most rural schools in Texas, PISD has received fewer and fewer applications from certified teachers to fill our open positions. There are likely numerous reasons for this trend, and many of them are outside of our control. To help combat this trend, over sixty-five Texas independent school districts, to include every district in Palo Pinto County except one, have chosen the four-day school week to create a greater incentive for high-quality applicants to fill teacher positions. These schools report a significant bump in the number of qualified applicants and a reduction in departures, which directly benefits their students by ensuring the best teachers are in the classroom.
This Board has spent the last several months discussing this possibility with members of the committee, PISD staff, and the community to come up with the best plan possible that balances both the needs of our students and creates a compelling environment for our educators. At this time, we agree with our committee that a straight four-day school schedule is not in the best interest of our students because we would have to extend the school day by nearly one hour. The committee presented a modified four-day calendar to take into account the community’s concerns that come with such an extended school day, limiting the additional time necessary per day to meet the state’s 75,600-minute school year requirement and reducing the total number of school days by only 4 days.
We agree that this is the best option for Peaster ISD to take a step forward as the first school district in Parker County to offer this option to our outstanding educators. Taking this step creates a 174-day school year for teachers, which is 13 days fewer than the standard 187-day calendar, and by far the fewest in Parker County. This calendar includes the same number of in-school minutes as required by the State, yet includes fewer overall workdays, which makes our salary offerings more competitive with higher paying districts. Not only do we expect that this plan will help attract and retain quality teachers, but we also expect that this schedule will give teachers more time to prepare their lesson plans and timely grade assignments, both of which directly benefit students.
After deciding to follow the recommendation of the committee, our teachers, and our community, we next had to decide whether to adopt the modified Friday or Monday option. There are advantages and disadvantages to each option. Ultimately, the data shows that our high school students are twice as likely to be out of the classroom on Friday then Monday. Across all campuses, staff absences on Friday are 50% higher with double the number of unfulfilled substitute teachers than on Monday. Additionally, the Friday plan syncs with Weatherford College’s Monday-to-Thursday school week, giving us flexibility in scheduling in-person dual credit classes. This data indicates that what is best for our students is to maximize classroom time with their assigned teacher. Therefore, we chose to adopt the off-day plan favored by eighty-five percent of four-day districts—Friday.
This decision did not come easily and only after much discussion, contemplation, and revision of the original draft calendar. We will monitor the implementation of this plan and make refinements as necessary. While we believe the changes are fairly minimal in comparison to the 2022-23 calendar, the Board will monitor academic progress during this two year pilot program and return to a five-day schedule if academic proficiency requires it. We thank the entire community for your feedback throughout this process, and we ask that you do all that you can to help us make this new calendar a success in the 2023-24 school year. Go Hounds!