School district gathers input on new calendar

Rhett Breedlove
Posted 5/3/24

TORRINGTON – Goshen County School District held a special public comment meeting Monday night at the central administration building. The meeting provided an opportunity for district educators, …

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School district gathers input on new calendar


TORRINGTON – Goshen County School District held a special public comment meeting Monday night at the central administration building. The meeting provided an opportunity for district educators, administrators, school board members, and parents to have an open dialogue regarding the four-day calendar introduced this last school year.

District superintendent, Ryan Kramer, was present alongside human resources and public relations director, Holly Lara.

School board member, Carlos Saucedo, was the sole trustee member to attend the discussion. 

The meeting shared statistical information gathered from surveys given to district students, school staff, and families in order to see just where everyone currently stands in regard to the still recently introduced four-day schedule.

According to information gathered and presented by Kramer, there have been plenty of positive effects; however, with plenty of room for improvement heading into next year.

“We wanted to run through what we did in the process for building next year’s calendar,” Kramer began. “While analyzing the current four-day structure, we see the overall experience after one semester has an overall average indicated on a 5.0-point scale, with 3.8 being the overall average of satisfaction. What this means as far as the percent who responded favorably or neutral, is about 75% percent of staff indicated they were either neutral, positive, or very positive on the new calendar.”

Despite a significant portion of data signifying a positive response, other answers and comments indicated there remains potential for continued improvement in order to further placate students and their families within the district.

“You allow the respondent to have an open forum to classify the information they wish to share with you, but it also makes it more difficult to categorize,” Kramer continued. “I believe there were over 1,600 comments total. That’s the challenge in having a balance with open-ended questions, but it also allows the freedom of individuality to share information with student engagement or performance.”

Kramer noted before all in attendance despite mixed to positive reviews about the new schedule, the calendar was developed and designed based off prior information gathered by those who served on the calendar committee.

The committee consisted of teachers, administrators, school board members, and parents in order to offer and encourage evident non-biased input. According to Kramer, the resulting data strongly indicated a four-day school week is what a vast majority of residents wanted or needed.

“We had 32 members in the calendar committee where we had representation from every building in the district,” Kramer continued. “We had parent representation, non-certified staff representation, certified staff representation, and administrative representation from multiple buildings in the district. What we were tasked with and ended up having, was the result of seven meetings which lasted a minimum of an hour and a half each for building the calendar. We used survey information while gathering as much data as we could to glean on that. There were some pretty extensive conversations around all aspects of, what I would say, were different areas of building the calendar for this next school year.”

“Just so everyone knows, we do have Calendar Committee members here,” Kramer continued. “We did not see from the results any indication of banning the four-day school week. The results indicated we would proceed with the four-day school week with appropriate modifications. Those are the things we used in building this calendar and is how we came to the calendar we have now in place.”

Although the general response to having Fridays off, for the most part, has been favorable, certain attending faculty members expressed utilizing those days for more activities to keep students productively occupied for the future.

Southeast Schools Principal, Tim Williams, elaborated further on those thoughts.

“Some of the things we have talked about are getting game and fish involved with hunter safety,” Williams said. “All those are things we can bring in getting the opportunity to have more time. We are looking at building three or four blocks into our day so kids can sign up for different things. We want to be able to take them to the lake and learn how to canoe, and we’ve even talked about shooting sports. Given the time we have, teachers are also talking about incorporating agriculture classes. We have talked about our kids being able to bring in a set of livestock and judge them at the school. There are a lot of good things we can do.”

“We need to build relationships within the district as we tap into this more,” Williams continued. “In having four hours instead of two, we can utilize our buses and take them places we weren’t set up for this year. This is how we’ve been looking at it, how we would like to attack the time and to make sure there are opportunities each week. Of course, it is limited by staff availability, and much of our staff right now are parents who want to go watch their kids in their activities. But we need multiple opportunities in having kids choose.”

LaGrange teacher and principal, Matt Daily, also offered first-hand input as well as ideas on how the calendar can be more beneficial for educators moving forward.

“A lot of staff were concerned with things they were expected to do on Fridays,” Daily added. “Meetings were fit in during a short time frame as well as interventions. We had a lot of conversations on how to alleviate the load depending on your location to fit those in on Fridays. It gives teachers all hands-on-deck Fridays to work with intervention for the full hours instead of splitting them up. It was really the best of both worlds, so it solved a lot of problems where time was concerned, not just on Fridays. Having a more site-specific survey may be beneficial where parents could help us generate more possibly.”

While both principals advocated highly on behalf of both students and parents, Lincoln Elementary Special Ed teacher, Abby Bruch, noted there must be a firm understanding and willingness to work with teachers who have small children or infants.

According to Bruch business hours for child daycare services do not coincide with faculty scheduling on Fridays; in turn, making it very difficult for teachers with young children to get to work on time on Friday mornings.

Bruch further noted this has the capacity for dedicated teacher-parents to be unfairly docked down on their required district evaluations, preventing their professional growth.

“We have to be in the work-life balance,” Bruch stated. “Young parents can’t be to work at 7:30 a.m. It’s impossible. We need to be thinking a little outside the box and make sure we are being open to teams. We need to be open for conversations so the work we are doing is always meaningful. We need to be able to do the work, but we also need to be taking care of our own people.”

After listening attentively to all who wished to speak on the matter, Kramer noted further useful conversations need to be happening. Kramer also discussed how helpful input is not only welcome from staff, community members, and students alike but strongly encouraged.

As Kramer intuitively explained, more community involvement is crucial in continuing to grow and expand the district for everyone’s benefit; most importantly with more active volunteers who will be needed when it comes to possible expansion of student activities.

“What allows for next year is certified staff who will have full hours whether in an intervention capacity or an extension capacity,” Kramer said. “One interesting aspect of it is all the varying opinions in regard to that. Mr. Williams and other administrators have felt our students don’t get enough activities, and we need to increase them. It’s trying to fit those in with the limited time we have, and also trying to get workers for all of them. We don’t always have volunteers available. It is still a drawn-out process, and last Friday was one that worked out perfectly. In some cases, we have definitely held our own, and staff are working no less than they were five years ago. The staff are starting at 7:30 a.m. next year and will be going to 4:15 p.m., so the number of hours for staff is dramatic. This may still need to have modifications, and I am excited about the conversations I’ve had and the opportunities this provides. I also want everyone to have an opportunity to ask questions or make comments. We will be reaching out for other input so please feel free as always to contact my office or your principal’s office.”