Shorter school week on deck for 27J District

Decision on money saving plan due this month

Kevin M. Smith Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 3/7/18

School District 27J’s students - and their parents - could have a four-day school week in the next school year. The district — which includes portions of Adams, Broomfield and Weld counties that …

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Shorter school week on deck for 27J District

Decision on money saving plan due this month

Posted

School District 27J’s students - and their parents — could have a four-day school week in the next school year.

The district — which includes portions of Adams, Broomfield and Weld counties that includes a small portion of eastern Thornton city limits — will decide officially this month whether to implement the new schedule beginning August 2018. District officials report mostly positive feedback on the change.

“It’s a mixed bag,” said Tracy Rudnick, public information officer for the district.

She said about two-thirds of parents have been open to the idea.

“There some who are 100 percent behind it and we’ve got some who absolutely hate it,” Rudnick said.

However, she said most of those hesitant just have questions about logistics. The new the schedule would be Tuesday through Friday, and one major logistic concern has been what students would do on that Monday off since parents are at work. The district is proposing to offer child care for students in grades kindergarten through fifth for $30 per day.

Rudnick said the main reason for the schedule change — while it is anticipated to save $1 million to $2 million annually — is to treat teachers better.

“The main focus here is that we’re one of the lowest funded districts in the Denver metro area … the philosophy is that if we can’t pay our teachers as professionals, we can treat them like professionals,” Rudnick said.

Kathey Ruybal, president of the Brighton Education Association, said that’s true. In surveying teachers in the district that covers 212.4 square miles, 91 percent said they were in favor of the four-day week schedule.

“That 91 percent is huge,” Ruybal said.

She said the schedule helps teachers better prepare for class and collaborate professionally.

“When you lengthen the teacher contract day, it gives you time when students are not there,” Ruybal explained.

She said that’s more time for professional development and classroom preparation. That develops better teachers which, in turn, creates higher student achievement, Ruybal said.

The district currently serves nearly 18,000 students, according Rudnick, and is anticipating growth in coming years because of new housing being built within the district.

The new schedule is not anticipated to lengthen the school year because students will be spending longer hours in class daily to make up for the time, so elementary students will still spend 960 hours of instruction and secondary level students will spend 1,080 hours of instruction, as required by the Colorado Department Education, according to the district’s website, www.sd27j.org.

While the exact schedule is still being ironed out, it’s anticipated that elementary schools would begin at 7:40 a.m. and dismiss at 3:30 p.m. while middle and high school students start at 8:30 a.m. and release at 4:40 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, according to the website.

Rudnick said the decision to have Mondays off is because many federal holidays fall on Monday, so there would be less disruptions or changes to the regular schedule.

Sports and extracurricular activities that normally meet five days per week would still meet and have access to district facilities on Mondays, she said.

Rudnick said the decision does not require a board vote and is at the discretion of Superintendent Chris Fiedler. She said that based on the positive feedback, the final decision would be made this month and it has the board’s blessing.

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