At Wednesday’s special school board meeting, ISD166 board members discussed their options on a four-day school week and an operating referendum. Later at their regular meeting they decided against the four-day schedule and increased the amount they will ask voters to approve in an operating referendum this fall.
Prior to the start of the regular meeting a number of parents with children in the school made comments to the board. Andrew Warren lives at the east end of the district.
Warren: All three of our children who are still in school now are very much opposed to it. They feel like they would be getting home too late. They feel like they enjoy going to school, and a day stuck out on County Road 14 an extra day on the weekend is not something that they would look forward to.
Maureen O’Phalen said the disruption of the four-day schedule was not worth it.
O’Phalen: So, instead of spending so much time on this new four-day week proposal, why can’t we address the core issues? I, along with other community members, have many suggestions that would assist in making classrooms more effective for our children. So, I’m respectfully asking you to sit down with our community, that means us, and look at the product we now have and begin work on improving what’s presently in place.
Steve Lack and his wife have two boys in the school.
Lack: I think it’s too much for the kids to cram, to teach them in just four days. I think this facility that we have, we’re blessed to have it, and we should take every advantage to use it for five days and teach the kids and give them a good education.
After over two years of research and discussion, weeks of seeking input from the community and numerous other public and private encounters, board member Leonard Sobanja summed it up this way:
Sobanja: I’m getting disgusted with working on the four-day week. How many meetings have I gone to? And I’ve gone to all of them. We have a referendum coming, and we should be devoting our time to that.
Member Rod Wannebo said they were either going to approve the four-day schedule or not and while he thought they should he acknowledged the time might not be right.
Member Erik Kemp moved to not approve a four-day week.
Kemp: We have a lot of challenges facing us right now, and a change to the four-day. I don’t think it’s popular with the public. It’s not the right choice right now.
Sobanja seconded the motion and the vote was four to one, with Wannebo voting against the motion. Chair Bill Huggins said he did not feel the four-day schedule was necessarily a bad way to go, but the community seemed to want more information before it could be successfully implemented.
The board then unanimously voted to authorize the administration to work with the district’s bond attorneys on an operating referendum resolution, including revenue of $650 per pupil unit, as well as the appropriate ballot wording.
The board went into their special session looking at a $595 per pupil unit figure. Superintendent Beth Schwarz said even if the measure passes this fall with the increase, the District will still face a $32,000 average yearly budget shortfall.