After months of deliberation and discussions with community stakeholders, the school days at Meadowlark Elementary and Cloud Peak Elementary schools will be shortened by approximately 45 minutes.

The move to a shortened day was first proposed by Principals Laurie Graves and Craig Anderson due in large part to student fatigue at the end of the day. Both principals noted that students’ attention spans wane at the end of the day, making classwork less effective. Graves and Anderson were also searching for creative ways to set aside time for teachers to work collaboratively on implementing the district’s new language arts curriculum.

When the duo first pitched the idea in a community forum in April, there were plenty of unknowns, including what the start and end time should be each day and how district busses could accommodate the change.

Through a series of meetings with community members and organizations, Graves and Anderson ironed out the details and answered the unknowns.

The end result was a change that has strong support from district teachers and was approved unanimously by school trustees.

We applaud Anderson and Graves for their ingenuity in addressing a known problem and for their willingness to try something new in the spirit of improving student outcomes. We thank them for their open communication with the community – not only providing information, but their willingness to also listen to parents and other stakeholders.

The school board also wisely asked Graves and Anderson to report back to them in December with an evaluation of how the change is working.

We are certain that when August rolls around, there will still some kinks to be worked out as students, families, bus drivers, aides and teachers adjust to the new schedule. Still, decades of organizational research makes one thing overwhelmingly clear: Stakeholder buy in is crucial for managing successful, effective change. And Graves and Anderson got that critical stakeholder buy in by involving parents and teachers early and often.

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