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BLACKWELL PUBLIC SCHOOLS

201 E. BLACKWELL

BLACKWELL, OK  74631

February 13, 2019

Dear Parens and Staff:

Blackwell Public Schools and the Board of Education have been exploring ways to deal with the Oklahoma teacher shortage.  Our top priority is to deal with the shortage while maintaining student academic performance and overall success for our Blackwell School’s students.  After an in-depth process of gathering information and formal discussions among the administration and Board of Education, the district is considering the implementation of a four-day week for the 2019-2020 school year to help attract and retain quality educators.  This would entail a school week to consist of four instructional days with either Mondays or Fridays off.

 

As requested by the board, a committee was formed with 27 parents, community members, and school staff to look at possible ways to retain and attract quality instructors for students of Blackwell Public Schools.  The committee met 6 times from November to January and determined a viable option to explore was a 4 day school week. The committee found that 92 districts, which consist of 208 school sites, currently participate in a 4 day school week.  After reviewing gathered information, the committee unanimously voted to approve moving forward with presenting this option to the board of education, which was done on Tuesday, February 12th.

 

Several schools in the state have already implemented the practice of a four day school week and their positive results have intrigued the administration and Board of Education to explore this type of school calendar.  The positive outcomes that are documented by the schools already on a four day week include: increase in teacher retention and recruitment, no decline in student academic performance on the state mandated tests, increased student and staff attendance, increased teacher and student morale and possible financial savings.  

 

We believe a four day week could:

{\color{Red} {\color{DarkRed} \displaystyle \bullet }}{\color{Red} } Help in teacher recruitment (Number of applicants have steadily declined over the past 5 years.  Some   subject areas have not had any applicants - specifically math and science).

{\color{Red} {\color{DarkRed} \displaystyle \bullet }} Retention (Blackwell has turned over about 25 teachers each year in the past 5 years.)

{\color{Red} {\color{DarkRed} \displaystyle \bullet }} Allow the district to save funds.

{\color{Red} {\color{DarkRed} \displaystyle \bullet }} Extend the school calendar by 1-2 weeks and the school day between 15 – 20 minutes.

{\color{Red} {\color{DarkRed} \displaystyle \bullet }} Retention will improve vertical alignment - Retention allows teachers in one grade/subject area to       collaborate with teachers in another grade/subject area to prepare them for the next grade.

{\color{Red} {\color{DarkRed} \displaystyle \bullet }} This will allow teachers to be in the classroom with their students and increase quality instructional time.

 

Blackwell Schools will have a special board meeting to listen to any questions or concerns you may have on the possible 4 day week Wednesday, February 20th at the high school study center from 8:00-9:00 pm.  Everyone is encouraged to attend. The board will have a special board meeting on Monday, February 25th at the Board of Education office at 6:00 pm to listen and possibly take action on a decision concerning the 4 day week.  Everyone is welcome to attend.

Sincerely,

Blackwell Public School Administration

 

Common Questions Regarding the 4-Day Schedule

{\color{DarkRed} \bullet } Will the 4-day week negatively affect student academic achievement?  Student educational outcomes improve in some cases but in most they remain the same.  There are very few research articles that show a decrease in student performance.  Most, if not all research indicates no statistical significance in either helping or hurting student educational outcomes.

{\color{DarkRed} \bullet } Would a 4-day week drastically decrease the amount of instruction time required by state law?  No, the 4-day week calendar would be using total hours of instruction to meet the 1080 (1050 hours Instruction/30 hours Professional Development) total hours required by law.  Blackwell could negotiate instructional hours to exceed the minimum requirement.

{\color{DarkRed} \bullet } Will the 4-day week affect extra-curricular activity schedules such as athletics?  No, the extra-curricular schedules will remain similar to what they have been.

{\color{DarkRed} \bullet } Will the 4-day week schedule affect enrollment for high school students in Career Tech?  No, of the districts currently on a 4-day week that were contacted when researching this topic, they did not see any decline in enrollment in high school students attending the Career Tech centers.  The high school students would attend their classes at Career Tech on the designated day that their home district was out. 

{\color{DarkRed} \bullet {\color{DarkRed} }}Will the 4-day week affect transportation to and from Career Tech for our high school students?  No, the Career Tech center will still provide transportation on the designated day off for our students.

Blackwell Public Schools

Blackwell’s public school system is rated among the top award-winning systems in the state. Facilities include a modern campus-style high school for grades nine through twelve, a middle school for grades six through eight, and an elementary school for grades PK through fifth. 
Blackwell Public Schools have an enrollment of  around 1,400 students on the three different school sites. Innovative programs to accelerate learning at all age levels include tools such as Leap Track Learning Systems, Waterford, and Reader & Math Rabbit for early childhood; Star math/reading, focus on Reading and Renaissance software in the elementary and middle schools; and Skills Bank, A+ and Work Keys are used at the high school level.  Through the use of interactive SmartBoard technology at all levels, learners are actively engaged in higher order thinking processes. Student learning and teacher instruction have become intertwined as a prescriptive process whereby student data is used to identify individual areas of need.
Community involvement and support have long been recognized as staples for the Blackwell Public Schools. The Blackwell Public School Foundation has collected more than $1,000,000.00 in funds used for grants to teachers. The foundation’s generosity and vision has created a protected endowment with gifts to the foundation becoming perpetual. 
While Blackwell Public Schools is proud of the recognition it has received for its many accomplishments and commitment to higher student achievement levels, the most important and rewarding feature of our schools is that we truly care about each student and are committed to their personal success and well being.   

 

 

Blackwell Public Schools

201 E Blackwell

Blackwell, OK  74631

(580)363-2570 - Phone

(580)363-5513 - Fax

BES: 580-363-3197      BMS:580-363-2100    BHS: 580-363-3553