It was a well researched decision for the Nashua School Board. While controversial to some of the parents and families involved, the final vote for a four-day school week came in on Tuesday, March 18.
The school board approved the schedule to begin next year in a 4-1 vote. Ryan Williams, Dale Pugh, Cole Sibley and Brenda Kessel voted in favor and Joe Laumeyer against.
The school calendar for the upcoming year has been posted to the Nashua school website.
While Superintendent Jennifer Cunningham was out of the office for comment and wouldn’t return by press time, Linda Parpart, the district’s business administrator, explained that there would be no school for a majority of Fridays in the upcoming school year, with the exception being when there are four Monday holidays in a week, when there is a week of district track, and when students would be off on a Wednesday.
Nashua isn’t the first school in the area to adopt the four-day school week. Other schools, such as Saco, Hinsdale, Wolf Point and Opheim, have also adopted the same type of schedule and some of their superintendents attended the previous public meetings to help answer questions.
Parpart explained that the school district had looked at the four-day week a few years ago, but they had voted to do more research and revisit the topic at a later date. This year the discussion started up again in October. A committee was formed that include teachers and administration to conduct further research and contact other school teacher, board members and administration from districts that had already made the change.
Letters that included a survey were sent out to teachers, parents and students in grades seventh through 12th. Teachers had the biggest support toward the change in schedule, with 70 percent for it, and only 10 percent against it. Fifty-four percent of students agreed to the change, and around 23 percent voted against the change.
Parpart said 85 surveys were sent out to parents and only 35 of those surveys came back, with 51 percent for the change and 40 percent in disagreement.
With all the returned surveys in, the school board held a community forum in December and allowed members of the community to speak up. Parpart said that those concerns were similar to concerns seen in other school districts that made the switch, from an extra day of childcare to retention and performance rates.
In January, the board took public comment. The public comment was taken into consideration and board member Williams said that in February the board made a motion to continue to pursue the four-day week calendar for the upcoming school year, contingent on negotiations with the union and non-union members.
The final decision was made in March, when the calendar was approved. Parpart said further details will be worked out, as suggestions about other educational activities be offered for Fridays. She added that practices for sports, as well as games, would also continue on Fridays.