Sunday, July 21, 2024

Pateros, Mansfield school districts adopt four-day school week

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PATEROS—Students returning to class in September will have to confront the welcome conundrum of what to do with a free day every Friday after the district board of directors approved a four-day week for the 2024-25 school year. Pateros joins Mansfield as two Quad City school districts switching to the new format this year.

The Waterville School District that combines Mansfield in its sports program has been on a four-day schedule since 2018.

Pateros and Mansfield are among 30 small schools selected by the state for a limited number of four-day waivers. The Pateros school board approved the waivers during a special meeting on July 1. 

The state opened 30 spots for districts with enrollments of less than 1,000 students to apply for an “Economy and Efficiency” waiver that allows a school to modify the 180-day attendance requirement. Pateros School Superintendent/Principal Scotti Wiltse pursued the waiver with the goal of attracting more families to the district to increase enrollment.

“Whether we meet for four days or five, the quality of education and the individual attention our students receive will not waver,” said Wiltse in a media release. “We pride ourselves on knowing our students inside and out, and we remain dedicated to ensuring that they receive the best possible education, no matter the structure of the school week.”

Pateros public meetings were held on April 18, and May 9, to gauge public support and address parent concerns about the new schedule. 

There is more than one strategy to implement a four-day week, and Wiltse explained three from which Pateros could choose:

Option 1

  • Stay with the current 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. schedule.
  • Additional 12 student days to meet the state’s minimum 1,027 instructional hours.
  • Additional 15 days to meet the current 1,048 instructional hours.
  • Additional 10 teacher days to meet their 1,440 hours.

Option 2

  • Student day from 7:50 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
  • No additional days needed to meet 1,048 hours,
  • Nine additional teacher days to meet 1,440 hours.

Option 3

  • Student day from 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
  • Additional half-day to meet state minimum 1,027 hours.
  • Additional 3.5 teacher days to meet 1,440 hours.

At this writing a schedule selection remains under consideration.

One of the primary concerns for parents is childcare for the new Friday off day.

The Pateros Treehouse Early Education Organization (PTEEO) and Brewster Boys and Girls Club (BBGC) were proactive in response.

PTEEO has a direct link to the Pateros School District through Wiltse, who serves as PTEEO treasurer, and school board member Grace Larsen who serves on both boards as well.

“We made it very clear at the public meetings we attended that we are at about half capacity right now, said PTEEO Vice President Gene Dowers. “We have lots of room for more kids.”

The top of the age limit PTEEO accepts is through age 12.

“We have an interesting overlap with the Brewster Boys and Girls Club,” said
Dowers. “We can take children younger than we can, and they can take children older than we can.”

PTEEO takes children from birth to age 13. BBGC takes kids from ages five to eighteen.

BBGC Director Elizabeth Shepard met with Wiltse last Wednesday, July 10, to discuss strategy.

“We are creating a plan on how BBGC can best support Pateros in this change,” said Shepard. I am also meeting with the Mansfield School District for the same thing.”

Bruce Todd is the new Mansfield superintendent.

Shepard said there is an alternative to transporting kids to and from Brewster.

“We have the option of a school site club,” said Shepard. “I would supply the staff, materials, and activities and the school would supply the space to do the activities.”

Wiltse reiterated her commitment to maintaining Pateros school education standards.

“Our dedicated teachers have always been, and will continue to be, the cornerstone of our educational success,” said Wiltse. “They bring not only expertise in their subjects but also a deep understanding of each student's unique needs, strengths, and potential. This personalized approach allows us to foster an environment where every child can thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.”

Mike Maltais: 360-333-8483 or michael@ward.media

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