Four-day school week ap­proved for ALA

Serve Daily - - FRONT PAGE - By Bryson Walker

On Jan. 13, the Utah State Board of Ed­u­ca­tion passed Amer­i­can Lead­er­ship Acad­emy’s pro­posal to waive the 180 school days re­quired each school year and al­low a four-day school week.

The four-day school week will be­gin at ALA with the 2017-18 school year. ALA is a char­ter school lo­cated in Span­ish Fork.

“It was clear in our con­ver­sa­tions with mem­bers of both the State Char­ter School Board and the State Board of Ed­u­ca­tion that they were both in­ter­ested in our pro­posal and be­lieve that it will be suc­cess­ful,” said Rich Mor­ley, di­rec­tor of Amer­i­can Lead­er­ship Acad­emy.

ALA will re­port to the state school board/char­ter school board on an an­nual ba­sis cer­ti­fy­ing that they have pro­vided 990 hours of in­struc­tional time and met other aca­demic goals. The waiver will be re­viewed in three years for pos­si­ble re­newal.

“Re­search on the four-day school week demon­strates that at­ten­dance ac­tu­ally in­creases,” said Paul Ashby, ALS’s as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal of sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion. “For ex­am­ple, par­ents will be able to sched­ule doc­tors and den­tist ap­point­ments on Fridays in­stead of check­ing them out of

class. With this ex­tra day, other schools with such pro­grams have noted the dra­matic de­crease in both teacher and stu­dent burnout.”

ALA is cur­rently plan­ning the pro­grams and sched­ules to im­ple­ment the four-day school week for 2017-18. “Par­ents and stu­dents are in­vited to share their thoughts about how we can make this a dy­namic and in­no­va­tive ed­u­ca­tional struc­ture,” Mor­ley said.

Kim­ber­ley Searle, ALA as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal and di­rec­tor of CTE, said she be­lieves the change will bring many op­por­tu­ni­ties. “We are do­ing some­thing in­no­va­tive, cre­ative and revo­lu­tion­ary in chang­ing the way our chil­dren ap­proach ed­u­ca­tion,” Searle said.

Be­fore ALA sub­mit­ted the pro­posal, there were cer­tain cri­te­ria that had to be met. First, at least 80 per­cent of the teach­ers would need to be in fa­vor of the four- day school week. Se­cond, the Board of Trus­tees would need to be in fa­vor of the four-day school week. Fi­nally, 60 per­cent of the par­ents would need to be in fa­vor of the four-day school week. It was agreed that ff any of these cri­te­ria were not met the pro­posal would be dropped.

Last spring, 90 per­cent of teach­ers voted in fa­vor of the four- day school week. This gave en­cour­age­ment to the Board of Trus­tees, which voted to pro­pose it to the par­ents. On Sept. 6, 2016, 525 par­ents com­pleted sur­veys. Six­type­r­cent were in fa­vor, 27 per­cent were op­posed and 12 per­cent were un­de­cided.

Af­ter fur­ther board and par­ent meet­ings, a con­sen­sus was reached wherein ALA would meet the 990-hour re­quire­ment by teach­ing from 8 a.m. to 3:15 a.m. four days a week for 157 days. Teach­ers will still come to work ev­ery other Fri­day dur­ing the school year for pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment. Stu­dents will also par­tic­i­pate in re­me­di­a­tion and ex­tra-cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties on Fridays as needed.

“We rec­og­nize that the four­day school week isn’t for ev­ery­one,” Mor­ley said. “Some fam­i­lies will choose to have their chil­dren at­tend a tra­di­tional school next year. For oth­ers it may be an at­trac­tion.”

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