Three times, the Luther School Board considered a trial-run at a four-day school week in an effort to save money. Three times, the board nixed the plan. Technically last time, they didn’t even vote on the four-day but instead opted for a plan to shorten the school year with longer days (Monday – Friday).
The move at the April Special School Board meeting also resulted in the reduction of $800,000 worth of programs and salaries for next year. The separate decision to shorten the school year left several faculty and staff in the audience in shock at the prospect of longer school days with fewer hands on deck, such as several teacher aides. When the news filtered out to parents and students, it was on.Katrina Wilson has four reasons to not give up on Luther Schools – her four children who are committed fourth-generation Luther Lions. She is among the parents and teachers who caught a glimpse of the four-day school week the month of April when Luther closed on Fridays to save money. So she is doing something about it, amassing a petition of signatures to call on the Luther School Board once again to consider the plan at its upcoming May meeting. She has collected nearly 100 signatures so far, and gathered several Thursday night visiting with fellow parents at her seven-year-old son’s baseball game.
Her goal is 300 signatures to gather by Tuesday, May 3, to try to get on the board’s May 10 agenda.
Mrs. Wilson was kind enough to answer a few questions.
Luther Register: What prompted this signature drive?
KW: I am sick of nothing being done in a positive light for the school. The plan that was voted on for a longer summer, breaks, and school days, is too much for the kids and teachers. I am a first grade teacher at Jones so I can understand it from a teacher’s point of view. Kids lose focus especially at the end of the day and then going all five days seems too much. I have heard so many people being for the 4 day so that is why I did the petition. Having that one day off where doctors appointments can be made causes fewer student/teacher absences and need for substitute teachers. For the past three weeks at Jones, we have been out on Fridays, and students seem to be ready Monday morning to work. I have also noticed behavior being better. It’s about the students and teachers as well. There have been cuts made so it doesn’t make sense to make the teachers work harder with less help and longer hours? …Why not try the four-day instead for a year? There is always adjustments for something new but nothing will change if we don’t try.
LR: What are the particulars? Where do we find the petition?
KW: The petition is at the insurance agency and at S & H Mercantile. I will also meet anyone to get their signature. My email is Kwilson0914@gmail.com.
LR: You have a beautiful family (from your Facebook photo)! How has this situation affected your own kids?
Thank you for that. My kids are 4th generation at Luther Schools. My husband’s family has been here forever and I started kindergarten at Luther. My father-in-law, Bruce Wilson, started as the Principal for Luther the year I started kindergarten, then he became the Superintendent. The football field is named for him, Wilson Field. He was an excellent superintendent, a trusted one. He and my mother-in-law, Mary Beth Wilson, are part of the reason I went into education. Luther is and will always be my home. As for our kids, they won’t go anywhere else. The difficult time Luther Schools is having is temporary. If you can do one thing to make a difference for the kids, do it. The students are what this is all about.
I have roots at that school currently. Most of my nieces and nephews attend Luther for 3 generations now. I agree a 4 day week would benefit the school tremendously. I pray you get those signatures, more than the 300 your asking for.
It’s interesting that everyone suggest this four-day week but no one actually says what the cost savings would be between the four-day week and the extended time for 5-day weeks. I have yet to hear how many hours are extended to each day one or two? Many schools have been experimenting with the longer teaching day for the last 10 years. With positive results such as a decrease of children in Title 1 programs, increase in reading proficiency and above-average scores in testing compared to schools that are not on extended days. Having said this the studies also show that they kept art and music programs and the teachers had an increase pay for their extra time every year. Making the cost of extended day more expensive. Yes, I have some questions too. And I wonder if the teachers have agreed to this. But, as to extended days the president has even spoke of going to extended days to compete with other countries that have been doing this already for years with positive results or have longer school years. Yes, we are rural community so it may add even longer times to the children’s daily schedules and we don’t know how it will actually affect our children. Some school districts have adopted a four-day school week but most that I found while studying this topic are in larger communities that have adequate daycare facilities to meet the needs of parents and children for that one day a week. The town of Luther does not have a daycare center large enough or enough daycare centers to facilitate the needs of all working parents for the one day a week a child may need care. I have contacted several daycare centers within Edmond and Oklahoma City and they are not willing to fulfill a spot within their center for a child who would only be there one day a week. Where are the younger children going to go? What are these working parents going to do if they are not lucky enough to have family members or friends that can care for their children or are fortunate enough to be able to be home that day to be with their children? Luther doesn’t even offer before and after care for children that would bring income come back into the school district. Why not propose a plan other than just a four-day week and say maybe a four-day week and the school uses the Pre-K building as a daycare center for the one-day week we’re not in school? The school would make money! Teachers would be paid to run it! We have a newer Pre K building to house children that is not being utilized. This income could go toward teacher salaries. I would say at the very least if the Pre-K building is not being used for classesn and the district is so worried about saving electricity that building should be shut down to save money. There is no reason to run that build for 3 people when they can be at the high school. I don’t always agree with the choices made but there is a reason the school board proposed this. They have been studying and looking at the various option that could be feasible to a majority. Instead of fighting the change why not give it a try? Try to think of other families as a whole and not just personal feelings. Luther is often in a negative light because when people disagree they take it to another level and bring the attention to the news media. Not everyone is going to agree but sometimes we need to experience the change before we can make an informed decision about what is right and what is not. I don’t like either option, but I will try to make it work. Give it a chance, nothing is set in stone. -Mother of 3, 2nd generation students.