Warsaw R-IX Moves Forward With 4 Day Week

Anita Campbell
County Reporter
  It was standing room only at the March 22 meeting of the Warsaw Board of Education as the Board voted to change the school week from five days to four for the 2018-19 school year.  Board member Rickie Caswell made the motion to change to a four day week, Board President Tracey Martin voted aye, Board member Mike Mais voted aye, Board member Carolynn Fisher voted aye, Board member Drew Burdick voted aye and Board member Amie Breshears voted nay.  Board member Brandy Fajen abstained from voting since she owns a day care and due to state statute and local board policies, she was not in a position to vote.
R-9 District Superintendent Shawn Poyser has said the Warsaw District has had an attendance issue, and after seeing similar schools in the state adopt a four day school week, they believe their attendance will increase.
“We have 83% of our kids here 90% of the time. It’s a concern for us, obviously,”  Poyser said. “It starts at home, [with] parent involvement. But, if you look around at four-day schools, their attendance all seems to go up. We’re going to work hard at that, but I think it’s an individual basis, really.”
Board member Drew Burdick was one of the five who voted in favor.
“If this would’ve been a bad decision, I wouldn’t have supported it from the get-go,” Burdick said. “This is what I believe to the best move for our district at this point.”
“I don’t think it had to be a ‘never’ thing, but I didn’t feel that we were ready at this time,” said board member Amie Breshears.
Breshears said while she hopes it’s successful now that it passed, there are still some concerns.
“Children who might be missing meals on weekends, or who wouldn’t have adequate supervision,” Breshears said. “Also, for struggling learners and our students with special needs, how this schedule would affect them is a concern.”
Poyser said those issues have been brought up and will be addressed.
“We’re going to add extra meals to our buddy packs on Fridays. We provide 111 families with meals over the weekend,” Poyser said. “We’ll increase that. We’ll also do snacks throughout the day, Pre-K through 12. And we’re going to reach out to families to see what kind of help they need with daycare. If we have to open something up here at the school, we will. But we hope something can be done with the community. We’re working with different factions, civic and church organizations to help with any daycare issues in the community.”
One of the reasons for the four day week is to attract teachers to the district and to retain those teachers.  Warsaw’s current starting salary for a first year teacher is $29,000 while Lincoln R-2 School District’s starting salary is $31,700 and Cole Camp R-1 School District’s starting salary is $31,500.
Board member and former R-IX teacher Carolyn Fisher who voted for the four day school week commented that she thought long and hard about the change to the four day week and decided that for now it would be best for the district.
Poyser commented that a survey was taken of parents of children in the district and reported that 56% of the parents surveyed were in favor of the four day week and 12% would need a day care.
Poyser says this move increases the school day slightly, and will actually increase the school year’s instructional time by 40 hours.
It’s on a three year trial period, and the board will reassess before the 2021-2022 school year.