GISD OPTS FOR MONDAYS OFF | Four-day school week begins in Fall 2024

Gladewater ISD Calendar Choice “B” [DRAFT] was adopted with a unanimous vote by GISD trustees April 22.

Gladewater ISD will transition to a four-day school week with Mondays off beginning with the 2024-25 school year.
After months of dialogue about calendar options for the district – including internal committees, surveys, research, data, feedback, public comment and closed door debate – the final decision came down to about a minute Monday evening.
Myriad details about the coming switch are still in flux, and GISD administrators have about three-and-a-half months to get all their ducks in a row before the new ’24-25 start of school Aug. 6.
“We’ve got a lot of details to line out,” trustee Rickie Blackmon said, “but I think we’ve got a good team working on it.”

The district’s school board members kicked off their April 22 meeting as usual at 6 p.m. Monday evening and progressed steadily through a typical agenda in the GISD Administration Building on East Broadway. The seven trustees and GISD Superintendent Dr. Sedric Clark adjourned to ‘Executive Session’ at 6:51 p.m. and returned from the closed discussion at 7:59 p.m.
Board President Ross Morgan noted the three options for the next school year’s calendar – A, the standard 5-day week; B, a 4-day week with Mondays off; and C, a Fridays-off, four-day plan.
At Morgan’s prompt, “I make a motion to approve Calendar B,” board Vice President Jeff Cook said.
Seconded by board member Chris Thompson, the motion was unanimously-approved with no public discussion. A subsequent motion to adjourn received another 7-0 before 8:01 p.m. and the meeting room emptied quickly of trustees, staffers and about 40 audience members.
Things are still in development, Morgan confirmed; the board’s action Monday begins the planning phase in earnest.
“There’s a lot of questions. Part of it administration is going to have to work on,” Morgan said, taking input from faculty and staff members. “They will start working on some of that while they are still on campus and before they go home for summer.”
The evening’s closed session discussion “was really team-building,” he added.
“We talked just as much about why we’re making this decision and what other things we can do,” he noted. Teacher retention and teacher recruitment remain key factors in the decision-making. “Some of that closed session we spent talking about other things we should be doing. This is just one of many.”

The evolving plan is for individual campus committees to contribute to the development of the school’s strategy for a four-day week. Those discussions will kick-start immediately.
“We’re not starting from a clean slate,” Clark said Tuesday. “We do have other districts that have done this before, and we’re going to use their information and what they have done, but of course we’re going to modify it to meet the needs of our community.”
Broadly, in order to cut Mondays from the traditional school week, the school year starts about a week earlier (moving from Aug. 12 to Aug. 6) and ends a week later, shifting from May 20 to May 29.
“It’s a little longer,” Morgan said, “and the school day is 40 minutes longer as proposed. A few holidays are shorter.”
The district’s transportation department and others will need to weigh in before officially setting the start and end times for the school day.
“We know we’re going to add 40 minutes to the day,” Clark agreed. “We haven’t put a definite time out yet because we’re going to be talking to all our entities.”
The district has teacher vacancies that need to be filled with more strong candidates, Clark said, and the schedule change is a step in the right direction.
“I’m excited that we’re moving in a direction that will, hopefully, put better applicants for positions in front of our administrators which will eventually put better teachers in front of our students,” he continued. “We have great teachers in our district, but for the open positions, hopefully this will draw some of the best to look at us.”

After Monday’s news of the looming schedule change, some residents are curious if it means school taxes will decrease.
“That one’s out of the blue,” Clark replied. “I don’t have an answer for that. We’re still going to pay our teachers the same right of pay.”
As for common questions about daycare options for the day off, “We will have some solutions laid out before we go home at the end of this school year. That’s what we’re working on between now and graduation: questions from parents and to give them as many options as we can.”
The district’s nutrition outreach, the Backpack Program of Gladewater, is another facet that will evolve with the schedule change.
“That’s another party we’re going to reach out to as we move forward,” Clark said. “They’ve worked with us for years helping to meet the needs of our kids. I’m sure they’ll continue doing what they need to do to help us.”
As for extracurriculars, he added, the only real impact is that Mondays won’t have school.
“That’s going to be resolved rather quickly,” Clark said, and the goal’s the same for other to-be-determined details: “Our goal with all of this of this is to definitely have it answered and have it published in time for school.”

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