BLACKFOOT, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - School districts statewide are deciding what to do with the remainder of the academic year. In Blackfoot, no decision has been made yet, but the district has already made a change for next year.
During a special Zoom meeting last Thursday, the Blackfoot School District's board unanimously voted to approve moving the district to a four-day school week at the start of the 2020-2021 academic year.
According to Superintendent Brian Kress, the move has already proved to be beneficial.
"One of the benefits that we were hoping for in transition to a four-day school week was to be more competitive in the employment and recruitment and retention of teachers," Kress said. "Within just a matter of a week, we have already seen that pay dividends."
When exploring the possibility of making the switch, Kress conducted a survey of district students, parents, teachers and administrators. He said more than 80% were in favor, making him more comfortable pursuing the shortened week.
"It just made me take a different perspective on why we were choosing to explore the four-day school week and that there may not be as many hurdles as I had anticipated," he said.
The coronavirus outbreak has put many things on the backburner, but Kress says it has actually strengthened the case for the district's optional Friday classes.
"I think we can help address some of those concerns, through this spring, and so I think that will be a phenomenal option because, quite frankly, not all students will need support and remediation, but those that do we will have that opportunity to provide that on Fridays,” he explained.
Now, Kress says he’s working to get his staff prepared.
"What I have learned and what I am prepared to help our staff do is focus on different pacing," he said. "Also, more importantly, focus on the power standards - or the most significant standards - rather than some of the ‘fluff’ that may be used in some of our curriculum.”
The district still has not made a decision about how to handle the remainder of this academic year. Kress says he will make a recommendation to the board based on the criteria the state establishes next week.