Four-day school week still an option at Southland

Published 10:09 am Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Southland community has a chance this month to pitch in thoughts about a four-day school week.

At the school board meeting on Wednesday, a group of teachers presented a proposal to cut one day out of the week in efforts to trim spending.

Recently, the teachers union voted unanimously to continue research to see whether a four-day week would work in Southland, which serves the towns of Adams, Rose Creek, Taopi, Dexter and Elkton.

Email newsletter signup

After discussion, the board directed the teacher’s group to hold community meetings to cull input from residents before coming back to the March board meeting with an updated proposal.

“We need to continue to research this idea and see if this is something that works and that the community supports,” said Ethan Riggin, Southland teacher and member of the directed research group.

If the district were to slim down to four days, Monday would likely be the day school would be closed. Research has shown, Riggin said, students would be more productive during a free Monday rather than a Friday.

Time would also be added to the in-school days so that classroom hours would remain essentially the same, Riggin said.

Southland would not be the first Minnesota district to cut back to four days in efforts to save money.

MACCRAY, which stands for Maynard, Clara City and Raymond, began a four-day week last school year in their west-central Minnesota district. The Blackduck and Warroad districts in northern Minnesota and the Ogilvie district in the central part of the state began a four-day week this year.

Southland schools currently have a balanced budget, but are bracing themselves for a continued loss in state aid and decreasing enrollment, superintendent Steve Sallee has said.

With a large graduating senior class this year, Southland schools expect a decrease of about 50 students next fall, and thus about $250,000 in state funding.

The group of teachers has argued that the savings in utility, maintenance and transportation costs — by nixing one day per week — could amount to $80,000 annually.

“We need to be proactive and grow our balance,” Sallee said earlier this week. “The board is going to look at whether this is a solution that could make sense for our district.”

In Austin, the school district has recently authorized administrators to seek cuts to shore up $300,000.

Southland community meetings dates and times have yet to be set.