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Fair Play R-II adopts 4-day week schedule


While there are mixed emotions from the public both positive and negative, the Fair Play R-II school board approved a four-day school week starting in the fall of 2023.

Superintendent David Geurin answered some of the questions and addressed concerns that are being asked.

The official school calendar for the 2023/2034 school year will be approved in the Spring.

Parents/guardians and community members may find comfort in knowing their neighboring town Stockton switched to a four-day school week in 2015 and it has been successful. The Stockton district questioned parents in a survey a couple of years ago, and the community responded favorably to keeping the four-day week. Marshfield has joined in a four-day week, and next year, Independence School District will be one of the largest schools to have a four-day week. Most districts cite monetary savings and hiring appeal among other reasons for transition. If the schools that are considering transition for 2023-24, it is estimated that 25% of all districts in Missouri will be four days.

As the superintendent of Fair Play R-II, what are your thoughts about the 4-day week schedule?

There are pros and cons to a 4-day week. Our board studied this issue carefully to make the best decision for the future of our school district. At the end of the day, we will make sure we provide the best learning experiences for every minute we educate our students.

How will this affect the school days and the hours involved?

The new school calendar will likely have about 150 days. Currently, we have 163 days. Each day will be longer, approximately 15-20 minutes. We must ensure the school schedule has a minimum of 1,044 hours. We will serve our students the same number of hours as other schools, just 4 days a week instead of 5.

Will this have an impact on summer vacation days? For instance, will this lessen the summer days schedule?

It will have a minimal impact. But that also depends on what happens with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring Break. The more days we allow there, the more we will need to go at the end.

One concern discussed by parents is the meals. Some students who attend Fair Play may only get the meals they are served at school each day. What are your thoughts regarding this concern?

I give our families more credit than that. Our parents love their kids and do their very best to provide for them. However, we do know many families struggle with financial resources. And we want to relieve burdens as best we can. We plan to have a backpack food program to send snacks home with students when we are aware there is a need.

How will this come into play regarding staff involvement? Some studies have shown that the four-day school week will attract more and better teachers. One

would hope that our best teachers are those who have the students’ best interests in mind, not those looking for a shorter work week. How can you ensure that the teachers will stay motivated and grounded and not feel rushed each week?

We have a very motivated staff. They love the school and the kids. So, I don't think they are demanding a 4-day week or anything like that. But I do think we can offer a better work/life balance and send a teacher into the classroom who is better rested and refreshed each week than if we had the 5-day option. The principals will work with teachers to make sure our curriculum has the pacing needed to meet grade level learning goals.

Teens home alone: We have limited activities for teens in the area. Would it not be better for them to be in school this extra day? Do you feel that we will see an increase in behavioral and drug problems in students?

I believe our students have many positive interests outside of school. They play sports, participate in music, hunt, and fish, have jobs, and help on farms and with neighbors. I do not believe there will be any connection between behavior and drug problems as a result of this decision. Those have more to do with individual decisions than school calendars.

Does this schedule put our kids at even more of a disadvantage when compared to high-performing schools? Do you feel this new schedule will have an impact on academic learning?

There is no evidence that 4-day schools underperform. We will make sure our students have everything they need to be life ready. Fair Play will continue to produce graduates that are some of the bests in higher education, in the workforce, and in the military.

How can you encourage both parents and students to be positive during this transition? What would you say to parents or guardians who are worried about childcare with the extra day off each week?

We're not trying to convince anyone to feel a certain way about this. We know there are concerns for valid reasons. I will say we are working to offer a childcare option on the 5th day. If there is interest and we can work through the staffing challenges with that, we will provide it.

Is there anything else you would like to say to the community, parents/guardians, and students regarding the four-day week schedule?

I was very pleased with the engagement and conversations we had. We had a very good process. The board has discussed this for a couple of years. In the months leading up to the decision, we collected lots of feedback, kept the community informed, and listened carefully to different views. It was a decision that was not taken lightly. Our board members love this school and community, and they made the choice they felt was right for Fair Play and a bright future.

For further questions or concerns regarding the 4-day week schedule, email Superintendent Geurin at dgeurin@fairplay.k12.mo.us or call 417-654-2231.


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