Glenrock students will attend classes four days a week next year, the superintendent said, as the small district grapples with state funding cuts.
The Wyoming State Board of Education accepted the plan late last month, after it was approved by the Converse County School District No. 2’s school board in February. The district, home to about 570 students, will hold classes from Monday through Thursday. The district is facing a cut of $650,000 next year, said Superintendent Coley Shadrick, and shortening the school week will save as much as $60,000 annually.
The move is one of several the district is making to save money. Officials there have laid off four staff members, and seven more took an early-retirement incentive, Shadrick said. Thirteen employees were laid off last year, part of an $850,000 reduction.
The majority of the savings from the move to a four-day week will come from cutting down on substitute teacher costs. Shadrick said the district spent $36,000 last year on Friday substitutes alone as faculty-coached teams traveled the state for activities.
For roughly three Fridays a month, teachers will still report to school, he said, for activities like professional development.
Officials are also reshuffling where students learn. Starting next fall, Glenrock’s intermediate school will hold fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders. Seventh- and eighth-graders will join the older students at Glenrock High School.
The moves will free up space within the district’s schools that it can then rent out to community groups, Shadrick said. He said there won’t be any problems with overcrowding, as the high school can hold more than 500 students and currently houses 171. Fewer than 100 more will move to the school as part of the reshuffling.
Overcrowding was one of the primary concerns raised by community members as the district weighed cost-cutting measures. So, too, was where and how students would spend their Fridays should the school week be shortened.
Shadrick said he was working with the Boys and Girls Club, which has expressed interest in using Glenrock’s middle school. He hoped the district and the organization could develop a Friday program to take place at the school, where students could use the gym, pool and auditorium.
“So that they’re involved in that activity, supervised, structured, and not running around the community,” Shadrick said.
Community members also questioned whether a shorter school week meant fewer hours of instruction. Under the new schedule, K-3 students will receive 912 hours of instructional time, fourth- through sixth-graders 988 hours and seventh- through 12th graders 1,114 hours, Shadrick said.
That amounts to slightly less for some grades, but he also said because staff won’t have students on Fridays, professional development that would normally chew up teaching time can be isolated to the end of the week.