By Selwyn Harris
At least two schools in northern Nye County will continue with a four-day school week.
The Nye County School District NCSD Board of Trustees on Tuesday voted to allow Gabbs and Round Mountain to keep their modified schedules.
Round Mountain has been operating under the schedule for more than three years while Gabbs schedule was implemented last year.
NCSD Chief Financial Officer Ray Ritchie said the change had nothing to do with saving the district money.
It was more about convenience for parents, students, and faculty members in the remote towns, he said.
“When it was put in, it was never put in as a financial savings. It was put in academically for the kids because of the distance to travel for both teachers, students, and with the parents for doctor’s appointments and with sports. A lot of their games are played on Friday. Now the athletes are not losing school time because school is Monday through Thursday and most of their games are played on a Friday but again, it was not put in to save the district money,” he said.
Ritchie also said that it’s important to note that the schedule will not affect the salaries of the school’s faculty members.
“Nobody lost any benefits or any work load. It’s the same number of minutes but just longer each day. Custodians are working four days. Instead of working five eight hour shifts, they are working four tens. This comes up every year for renewal and the board looks at it and decides. It started out at just Round Mountain. Gabbs for the first time last year went to a four-day work week and appeared to show improvement,” he said.
Board members heard a presentation from officials at both schools.
In the agenda’s backup material, Round Mountain’s Four Day Committee reported that students appear to be performing better academically with the revised schedule.
“As we have operated on a four-day academic week for some time now, we are pleased to report that students, parents, and other community members have adapted well. The school has also been responsive and has ironed out the unexpected road bumps that occurred as we made the switch. We continue to respond positively as the need arises. The longer schedule during the day on a four-day academic week lends more time to implement leveled reading programs, longer math blocks and more time in the class period to provide instruction ultimately leading to more successful students,” the report stated.
The committee also said that the school was the only one in Nye County to receive the status of high achieving growth.
“Round Mountain schools continue to achieve goals we set for ourselves. Student attendance was increased, teacher attendance was increased and teacher contact time was increased. Funds were saved and we continue to have the strong support of the parents and community, and most importantly, we strive to help our students achieve success. We propose that the board approves the four-day academic schedule as a permanent schedule for Round Mountain,” the committee urged.
NCSD Transportation and Maintenance Supervisor Cameron McRae did say that a slight monetary savings was actually noticed within his departments.
“There is no monetary savings based upon salaries and benefits. There is however, a slight monetary savings based upon non-usage of the facility on the fifth day. It’s not a 20 percent reduction in operating costs but there is a slight reduction by rooms being unoccupied. I can’t tell you that we have been able to measure that type of savings. The only savings that is truly tangible is the fact that mileage on the school buses per week for those areas would decrease. There is a savings on the school bus operation outside of the salary and benefits of the driver,” he said.
In reference to the four-day week, Tonopah Elementary and Middle School Principal Holly Lepisto said she is also considering adopting the schedule to increase school attendance.
“Our parents in Tonopah have jobs with the mines and the test site. These workers generally have Friday off and what happens is they use this day off to take their kids to the doctors or dentists. By switching to a four-day week, we are trying to increase the attendance. Round Mountain has had a four-day week for the past three years and they have shown an increase in attendance,” she said.
Rhonda Stritenberger Crumpton, a parent of a child in school, also said she is hoping that the board will grant the new schedule during a future meeting.
“Schools that have done this have a 80-90 percent parent satisfaction rate with the schedule. Student moral goes up, absences go down, there is a small amount of money saved for the district and test scores do increase somewhat. Other schools not only in our district but the schools our sports teams are playing already are on this schedule so this will align us with them. This will keep sports students from missing class time. We have had all positive feedback from polled parents so far. We will be approaching the school board April 9, and would love to have parents there to show support,” she said.