Four-day week on the horizon: How the Glenrock school budget cuts will affect you

By Melissa Peterson

After Glenrock School District was informed in the fall of 2017 that a $500,000 budget cut was coming their way, they began to formulate a plan to keep the schools open. To prepare for the expected cut, the Cost Savings Task Force was formed in November of 2017.
“We cut as much as we could last year without affecting the kids,” GSD Schoolboard Chairwoman Vicki Widiker said.
At the first meeting, members of the community, students and teachers were invited to an open forum where they bounced ideas back and forth in an effort to create a plan. As a result, taking away Friday classes by cutting back to a four-day school week became the top idea, along with moving the seventh and eighth-grade classes into the high school. Cutting back on Fridays alone would save the district $40,000 in just substitute teachers alone.
With this proposed plan, the community of Glenrock reacted with both positivity and concern. One concern the board was bracing for was what will students do on Fridays if they’re not in class. The board began discussions with the Boys & Girls Club to have access to the gym and pool as a place where students can have structured activities. In regard to not being in class, the community was concerned with the juvenile crime rate escalating. The board reassured them that they have talked to the Glenrock Police Department, and they might need to keep an extra eye out for any suspicious activity. The school board does not see this as a problem though.
“Chief (Tim) Hurd has really prided himself on juvenile crime going down in the last few years,” District Superintendent Coley Shadrick said.
The next main concern they anticipated was families who would be in need of daycare on Fridays. The board was surprised though when they sent out a survey and 70 percent of parents said they did not need the extra childcare; with 76 percent supporting the proposed four-day week.
“It sounds scary at first, but I don’t think it’s going to be a problem,” Vice Chairman Casey Tillard said.
When it comes to moving the seventh and eighth graders from the middle to the high school, the board and teachers see it as a way to combine their efforts and utilize what they have; as moving them together will create a general focus and allow the teachers to instruct multiple grades. Most teachers in GSD are certified to teach from kindergarten to 12th grade.
“In small communities, teachers will have to start wearing multiple hats and that’s part of the reason combining seventh and eighth happened,” Tillard said.
During a Feb. 16 meeting, Shadrick took a moment to caution other schools who might be under the same threat of budget cuts. The more funds which are taken could result in less school time and fewer classes. Making it unobtainable for any student to reach the full requirements set to graduate, as well as being eligible for higher-end college scholarships.

The four-day schedule has yet to be approved by the state and if it does pass, it will not come to fruition until the next school year. For the last few months, GSD staff has been gathering all of the necessary requirements to appeal to the state. They have until March 8, as the board is currently finishing up the last few touches before they submit the proposal to the Department of Education.
If the state does approve the new school schedule, they will still have to keep up with the mandated 1,100 hours of contacted time per year. In order to meet the mandated hours, they would have to add an extra 27 minutes of school time a day. It will also require the schools to start three days earlier in August and end three days later in May. Also, they will have to submit test scores to the state, proving to them that they are keeping up with state education requirements. Even after the approval, the new schedule will last only two years. The school will have to submit yearly reports and has the option to change back to a traditional school week if it does not work out.
For the board, and as long as he can remember, Tillard notes how they strived through the years of budget cuts to handle the situation, without negatively affecting the student’s education.
“When the state starts talking of taking away half a million dollars from a school this size, we have to make it up somehow,” he said.
It becomes more difficult for them when they think of the possibility of having to let staff go and cut into school activities.
“If we can save 40,000 dollars, that’s one person’s job, one person’s family,” Clerk Jay Lesser said.
Seeing the staff as their neighbors, the board has strived to invite the community into the process and communicate the details along the way. Even with the prospect of saving money, the board is still concerned about the effects the budget cuts will have on the school.
“We’re scared to death,” Tillard said.
They have decided to prepare for the worst but strive to stay positive as they join the Glenrock community in fighting for their school district.
“We’re trying to find a positive in it will allow us to streamline our district to better serve our kids,” Tillard said.


Glenrock Independent

Physical Address:506 W. Birch, Glenrock, WY 82637 Mailing Address: PO Box 109, Douglas, WY 82633 Phone: (307) 436-2211

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