Dear Editor,

I would like to propose a fourth option be offered by the JCSD – the 5-1/2-day school week. I believe this option holds several benefits over either the traditional five-day or the shortened four-day week.

Students would be able to pursue their academic interests in greater depth during the four hours each Saturday. Those hours would provide uninterrupted time to do complex projects, carry out in-depth research and work collaboratively with other students outside their regular weekday classes.

Students in classes that require a great deal of repetition and practice would have a block of time devoted to improving their skills. Music, art and speech come immediately to mind.

Students would have greater access to community expertise in various fields. Many local people who work during the week would be available on an occasional Saturday to share “real world” examples and their expertise.

Students who have difficulty in one or more classes would be able to get needed tutoring/coaching.

Students in clubs and organizations could use Saturday mornings as meeting times rather than meeting during weekday class time (taking away from instructional time) or after school (conflicting with other extracurricular activities).

Students who have a weekday absence would be able to get assistance and make up the work right away.

Student travel for most events could be scheduled on Saturday (granted students would be losing the benefits of Saturday school but that is a choice they would need to make).

Student travel on Saturday would allow teachers who are coaches and sponsors to remain in their classrooms as the subject area experts for all five weekdays.

Students would benefit from having their teachers in the classroom, with all its nuances and complexities, for all five days. No matter how good a substitute may be, very, very rarely can the substitute duplicate the effectiveness of the teacher.

Classified staff, who agreed to a contract addendum, could serve as substitutes for coaches and chaperones who are traveling Friday evenings or Saturday mornings. These staff members could earn extra income and would be superb substitutes. They already know the students, are familiar with the various subjects and have access to the building.

When teachers are gone during the week, students are denied 20 percent of the instructional week in that class. A 5-½-day week would reduce the absences of student travelers and provide non-travelers with access to subject-area expertise all week long. A 5-1/2-day week would provide supervised extracurricular possibilities for students not interested in interscholastic competition. And, just think of the amazing junior research presentations and senior projects that would be accomplished with the extra time to work with staff expertise. I won’t even get into what an extra meal or two would do for those facing food insecurity issues.

Frank Pratt


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