MCLOUD, Okla. - Public school students in McLoud will be attending four-day school weeks this fall, according to school officials.
McLoud Public Schools Superintendent Steve Stanley said they first announced the idea in January but revisited the change this past spring after concerns and questions from the community. The goal, according to Stanley, is not to save money but to recruit more educators.
"We looked at the fact that we were not getting very many applicants, and we have approximately 10 teachers on either emergency or alternatively-certified certificates," Stanley said.
In order for students to be in school for 1,080 hours during the academic year as required by law, Stanley said the plan moving forward is to close schools across the district on Fridays but add 40 minutes to each school day Monday through Thursday. Holiday breaks will also be slightly shorter, scheduled professional days would be moved to Fridays when school is out and snow days could also be made up on Fridays.
The new school schedule has had a positive on recruiting new teachers so far, he told News 4.
"We’ve currently filled every opening we have for next year except for one and, instead of getting one applicant or none, we’re getting anywhere between five and 15 and those are seasoned teachers — not just first-year teachers," Stanley said. "Instead of just taking what was there and some of those did work out, we now have the opportunity to pick exactly what fits our system."
One parent we spoke with said she doesn't think this is a big change but, rather, a better change.
"They [students] go longer during the day, and I seem to think they get more done and they’ve got extra time during the weekend to do what they want to do," one parent told us.
Parents like Jeannene Williams said though she's excited to spend more time with her children, she's on the fence with the new plan.
"I’m nervous at the same time because my son has ADD and I’m worried that the longer school days will affect him more than any normal kid because he has to sit still longer and pay attention longer," Williams said. "I’m also worried for the other kids because there are older kids that their parents won’t think they need child care because they’re older enough to take care of themselves, but that’s a lot of time on their hands."
The other issue schools had to consider were childcare and if meals would served on Fridays when school will be out. According to Stanley, 76 percent of students in McLoud schools qualify for free and reduced meals.
"We are going to offer meals on those Fridays. We also are meeting this week with a company that will come in and offer daycare using our facility. Parents would have to pay for that but, that way, they’ve got a place to go," he said. "We’re going to make sure our kids are fed. That’s our number one priority. I don’t want a kid hungry. We have a lot on the backpack program that take backpacks home for the weekend, so we can’t shut down that. That would hurt our children."
Stanley said they will try this new school schedule out for the next year. In that year, they will look at a number of factors including test scores, attendance, discipline and the quality of teachers they are hiring.
According to the McLoud school calendar, the 2018-2019 school year begins on August 8.