WACO will not have trial run of 4 + 1 school week
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
WAYLAND — Surprise management — not exactly a method to endear yourself to your superiors.
WACO School Board members received a surprise Monday night when they were told during their regular monthly meeting that the school district would not have a trial run of the 4 + 1 school week.
Directors were told by Superintendent of Schools Pat Coen during a January board meeting that the district was going to have a “dry run” of the new schedule April 15-26. School board members also had promised community residents during informational meetings a trial run of the innovative calendar.
Next school year, the district will become the first in the state to have a four-day school week throughout the school year. Enrichment activities, remediation, professional development and other programming is scheduled for Fridays.
Board members asked elementary instructor Tina Whalen, also the vice chair of the 4 + 1 committee, about the trial run last night. She said there will be no trial run. “We didn’t feel it would be valuable from an instructional basis because it would take time away from instruction this year,” explained Whalen.
Board members were not happy with the response.
“I would like to see us try it,” responded JoEllen Jepson. “We were told we were going to do it.”
Whalen said there is no faculty support for a trial run this year.
“You would have zero support from the staff for it,” Whalen said, adding that a trial run may not produce an accurate picture. “Any errors or problems we have at this time would be fictional because things change. It would not be a ‘real happening.’ It would be fake and as instructors, we would not know how this would work.”
Todd Meyer, board member, disagreed. “Conversely, some people around town would like to see how it works. You can’t guarantee it will be a failure.”
Continuing, Whalen said there is not enough time to get the trial run organized. “We (faculty) are putting in unbelievable hours and we are being asked to do something that isn’t real. We want to give them (students) their full instructional time this year. I can’t say it would be beneficial (to education this year) if we have to give up two weeks to prepare for it.
“We, as a committee, talked honestly and openly about it,” Whalen said. “We would have done it if we had support from the staff, but we didn’t think we had a single staff member in favor of it.”
Board member Jarod Graber said the board should have been informed about the change. “Why are we just finding out about this now? We told the public we were going to do it. Why weren’t we told this was not going to happen?”
Jepson continued lobbying for the trial run. “Would there be a possibility of doing this at the end of the year? I’m just talking about a couple of days to see how it works.”
J. Graber said a trial run would allow the district “to catch some bugs early.”
“I would like to see a discussion between the school administration and 4 + 1 committee to see if we can have a trial run. It was discussed at all the community meetings that we would have it,” Jepson remarked.
Coen said legally the board could not force staff to have the trial run. “We can’t make them do it because the current master contract does not have the additional hours in it.”
Jepson noted that the board “is very excited about this. Can the board help in any way.”
“I will not comment on that,” Whalen answered which ended the discussion.