Local parents will soon have a chance to provide feedback on what after-school activities they would like offered on Friday afternoons in the coming 2020-21 school year.

“I think it makes sense to put together a short survey for Meadowlark and Cloud Peak parents so we can get a good idea of what sort of options they would like to see rather than just shooting from the hip,” Superintendent Jim Wagner said during a Johnson County School District calendar committee meeting on Feb. 12.

The survey comes as the district pursues a “youth alliance” with community organizations such as the Johnson County YMCA, Boys & Girls Club of the Bighorns and the Johnson County Library to offer after-school opportunities Fridays once the early-release schedule is implemented this fall.

Under the new schedule, which was approved in October to accommodate student and staff absences on Fridays, Meadowlark Elementary, Cloud Peak Elementary and Clear Creek Middle School will all release at 1 p.m. on Fridays. Buffalo High School will release at 1:15 p.m.

While most middle and high school students have plans once the bell rings, it is the district’s responsibility to provide options for elementary kids with working parents and no place to go, Wagner said.

The survey will help determine just what those opportunities should look like, and it should also provide a clearer picture of how many students will need services on Friday afternoons, Wagner said.

“If we know what kind of numbers we’re dealing with, that will help us move forward,” Wagner said.

Jen Skaggs, counselor at Clear Creek Middle School, agreed that the survey could provide valuable information.

“I think sometimes we assume that families need our help, but a lot of parents might be happy to just pick their kids up and go home when the bell rings on Friday,” Skaggs said. “So this survey will help us learn if this is even needed – and if so, what kinds of services we need to provide.”

Wagner commissioned a group of five teachers from across the district’s schools to develop a survey, which will be available to parents – both online and in-person – during the schools’ parent-teacher conferences in late March.

Survey results, and the district’s next steps, will be discussed at the calendar committee’s next meeting at 4 p.m. on April 7 at the Johnson County Library.

Stephen Dow covers a variety of beats for the Buffalo Bulletin including the Johnson County Commissioners and JCSD #1. Stephen is a Billings native who joined the Bulletin in 2016.

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