Newcastle Community Forum Set To Discuss Proposed 4-Day School Week

Sunday, January 31st 2016, 6:28 pm
By: News 9

Four-day school weeks is a highly debated topic in the education world. About 40 districts in Oklahoma have already moved to the new schedule, and now, Newcastle could be the next.

The district is holding a community forum Monday night to allow parents and community members to get more specifics on the proposal. However, some fear their concerns won’t be heard.

“Who wouldn't like a three-day weekend every weekend,” said Aaron Hart, a Newcastle parent.

Hart has a lot of questions about the Newcastle superintendent's proposal to move the district to a four-day school week.

“I've got a 5-year-old kindergartener that's expected to sit still for seven hours and if we increase that to seven and a half or eight hours, that's a long day for a 5- or 6-year-old,” Hart said.

In a letter sent out to the school community December, superintendent Tony O’Brien stated two issues the district needs to resolve; a budget deficit and a teacher shortage.

It’s believed a four-day school week may help save money on transportation and meals and also help retain and recruit quality teachers. However, parent James Branan believes what could help the district could hurt some families.

“Those two parent families that work outside this city are facing the choice of someone else choosing who will be they caregiver on Friday,” Branan said. “Those single parents are going to face possible job loss or 20 percent of family's earnings they can't afford.”

11/18/2015 Related Story: OK School Districts Look Into 4-Day School Week 

The school board announced it would hold a community forum to give more specifics about the proposal.

Issues expected to be addressed include:

  1. Childcare and programming for after-school and on the day off.
  2. Food service options for longer school day and on the day off.
  3. Proposed day of the week to take off — Friday vs. Monday
  4. Other four day information as is requested

Questions will be allowed at the forum, but only if the question was submitted last week through email -- as the district’s policy doesn't allow for anyone to speak at school board meetings without prior approval.

“The problem with that is I don't have specific questions because the specifics have not been laid out yet,” Hart said.

The meeting is begins at 6 p.m. on Monday in the auditorium of the administration. The board could vote on the four-day school week as early as February 8.

The Newcastle Pacer is offering a public opinion survey – you can pick it up at its offices located at 120 NE 2nd Suite 102 in Newcastle, fill it out and turn it in at the meeting.