Letter: Goal of 4-day research is improving schools

RE-4 School District’s vision is “to be the best school district in Colorado through constant growth and achievement.” In order to achieve the academic rigor in the classroom, professional learning communities must be established. The purpose of researching the four-day school week is to improve student achievement by providing teachers the opportunities for continual professional development in classroom management, creating instructional designs for the different learning styles in the academic arena and staying on top of the cutting trends and issues of education. A community forum was conducted on Monday, Jan. 11 to provide the research on and to further explore a four-day school week. Also, questionnaires have been disseminated to local businesses and parents to gain input. A second four-day school week community forum will be conducted at the Rangely Junior/Senior High School auditorium on Monday, Feb. 8 at 6:30 p.m.
According to research, it is estimated that 6 percent of the nations teaching force leave the profession. The rate of turnover was highest in the academic fields of mathematics, science and special education. One of the primary reasons for teachers leaving education is lack of support. In addition to this, the research states many other contributing factors, such as lack of mentors, lack of professional development, lack of support from administration and colleagues, lack of adequate human and financial resources, and a high number of discipline problems. It is important to note that teachers who are new to the profession need to have mentors assigned to them. All teachers need to have opportunities to participate in high-quality professional development where their learning can be enhanced and facilitated in programs that will help them develop skills and strategies in classroom management and instruction.
As the superintendent of the Rangely School District, I believe our students deserve the same high quality education as any other student in the state/country because they must have the same qualifications as other students when they are competing for jobs and higher education. Children in the 21st century require well-developed mathematical skills and other academia, because the world has been transformed through technology and global competition. If students are not given the guidance and opportunity to engage in critical thinking and discourse in school, they will not be capable of carrying out their responsibilities as citizens in a democratic society. Teachers need continual professional development to learn and implement the cutting edge strategies and methodologies that will meet the needs of all students to help them be successful.
Rangely RE-4 School District’s mission is to create a learning community dedicated to high achievement and safety for all. We (parents, community educators) are all accountable for the future of our students. Our students are the only resource and valued customer that will endorse the freedoms, the integrity and citizenship our community, state and nation stands for. This research on and exploration of the four-day school week is not only essential but necessary. The implementation of professional development must be a perpetual process that includes the strong relationships between teachers and students, teachers and teachers, teachers and parents, and parents and students.
Ninety-two people were in attendance at the Jan. 11 forum, consisting of teachers, students, parents and community members. Also, some of the questionnaires distributed to local businesses and parents have been collected and the preliminary results are as follows:
Adults — 26 for, 18 against, 13 neutral.
Students (3rd-5th) — 68 for, 14 against, 5 neutral.
Students (9th-12th) — 66 for, 13, against, 13 neutral.
More questionnaires have been disseminated into the community and teachers have sent more questionnaires home to parents by the students. In addition, some students have composed letters expressing their feelings regarding a four-day school week. The due date for this much needed input from the questionnaires is Monday, Feb. 1.
I encourage everyone to attend the second four-day school week community forum to be held on Monday, Feb. 8, so that we can share information, have discussion and gain input from all stakeholders on our most precious resource: the students!
Dr. Barry Williams
Rangely School District
superintendent