For one student at Elizabeth High School, the thought of a four-day school week does not sound appealing. Jacob Patrick is a junior at Elizabeth High …
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For one student at Elizabeth High School, the thought of a
four-day school week does not sound appealing. Jacob Patrick is a
junior at Elizabeth High and after experiencing a four-day school
week in Elbert, he is concerned about his education.
Patrick brought his concerns to the school board at the March 31
open forum regarding the potential four-day school week.
He told the board that after his past experience, he did not
have enough time to finish homework by the time he made it home
after school activities, which was around 8 p.m. He said he also
wants the best education possible and hopes teachers will remain in
the district even without a four-day week.
“I hope to be a teacher one day and I know Elizabeth teachers
don’t get paid very much,” he said. “But if I were a teacher, I
would be here to teach and I would not want to cheat my kids out of
Similar questions and concerns regarding the potential four-day
school week for the Elizabeth C-1 School District were raised at
the meeting in the gymnasium at Running Creek Elementary by parents
and teachers who gathered to hear a presentation given by
Superintendent Paul Dellacroce. A question-and-answer portion
followed with Dellacroce and three school board members — Rick
Stone, Dan Hill and Marcia Beach-Lyons.
The board members agreed, saying the main reason for the switch
to a shorter school week is teacher retention. Currently the
district loses 30-40 teachers a year, with shortfalls in math,
science, foreign language and special education teachers. Because
the school does not have the funds to compete on salaries with
neighboring districts, the best alternative was a four-day school
“Elizabeth is sandwiched between two of the richest school
districts, Douglas County and Cherry Creek, and they raid out our
teachers as much as they can,” said Stone. “We get the good
teachers in the beginning, but by year three or four the other two
counties come and get them. We are a training ground here in
Elizabeth for the teachers the first couple years.”
Stone said that many teachers that are interviewed before they
leave the district for another teaching job said that they would
have stayed in Elizabeth if they had the option of a four-day
school week. He said 84 percent of the current teachers in the
district surveyed are in favor of the shorter week and said the
most important thing for the school board is maintaining high
Although students will have a day off in the week, teachers in
the district will be able to use the day away from students to plan
lessons, catch up on grading and work on class projects without the
time interfering with their weekends, Stone said.
The district will also be saving $150,000 per year with a
shorter week. The funds saved will go directly back in to the
schools for technology upgrades, such as computers, which will help
production in the classroom, Stone said.
“We are light years behind in technology and we want to use the
saved money for technology to educate the kids,” Stone said.
“We are not looking to save money, we are looking to retain
teachers,” Beach-Lyons said.
The money saved will not affect the budget overall and will not
change the amount of the budget, Dellacroce said. Funds will be
reorganized not only to purchase technology equipment but also to
ensure classified employees such as bus drivers, support personnel
and office employees, are not affected by the change
If the district were to change, students would either have a
Monday or a Friday off during the week and 45 minutes would be
added to the remaining four days, 15 minutes to the start of the
day and 30 minutes to the end of the day. Colorado state law
requires school districts to adopt a schedule of at least 1,080
hours for secondary school and 990 hours for elementary schools.
Currently the district uses 1,095 hours for secondary schools and
elementary schools per school year and a potential four-day week
would have 1,087 hours for secondary schools and elementary schools
per year, losing only eight hours per school year.
But many of the comments made by parents during the meeting
disagreed with the route the school board may be taking. Many
comments were made to the board regarding student fatigue due to
the longer school day. Parents expressed their concern for the
younger students not being able to pay attention during the entire
span of the day as well as reduced time in the evenings for
homework and playtime.
Although longer days may be hard for some students and even some
teachers, one high school social studies teacher, Terry Bonewell,
said she believes she can overcome the obstacles through proper
planning and structure. But Bonewell said the four-day week is more
like a quick fix to the salary problem in the district.
“I can say with the utmost confidence that the colleagues I work
with believe the four-day week is only a temporary solution and the
salary issues would still need to be addressed within the next two
or three years at most,” she said.
Transportation and child care were also hot topics during the
meeting. Currently the earliest bus pick-up time is 6:35 a.m. and
the latest drop-off time is 4:20 p.m. With a longer day the
earliest pick-up time would be 6:20 a.m. and the latest drop-off
time would be 4:50 p.m. One parent explained to the board that his
daughters already spend over an hour a day on the bus and he said
he is concerned his children will not have enough time to spend
playing after school and spending time with the family.
Stone said the school board is discussing adding at least two
more bus routes to help with the earlier and later times. He said
the board is looking at ways to make the transportation system work
in a feasible manner without too many changes for the students.
In regards to child care, Stone said the school board is looking
at available alternatives for families, depending on the
Although many of the comments made during the meeting were in
opposition to the decision, an Elizabeth teacher did agree with the
potential change. Marilyn Travis is a second-grade teacher at
Running Creek Elementary. She told the board that many other
teachers she has spoken with are also in favor of the four-day
school week. She said one of the best benefits to the longer day
for her is being able to teach science every day to her class as
well as seeing every reading group in her class every day of the
week. Another benefit she mentioned was having a day during the
week to get work done, without it interfering with her weekend.
“Having time to spend the weekends with our families is a huge
boost for the families,” she said. “We know we won’t make as much
money here, but it’s the packaged deal that is appealing and the
four-day week is a great benefit.”
Marilyn’s husband, Mitch Travis, is also an Elizabeth teacher
who teaches performing arts at the high school. He said the
four-day school week offers the district a chance to encourage
teachers to stay and is basically cost-free while saving money. And
if it does not work, it costs nothing to return to the standard
five-day week. But Mitch Travis is also aware of the benefits to
having a consistent teaching staff.
“We all know the importance of consistency in learning and the
best way to achieve that is to have a consistent, good teaching
staff,” he said. “And if we continue to lose teachers that’s not
good for education of anyone’s kids.”
The board is scheduled to vote on the topic at the April 16
board meeting at Elizabeth High School. One more open forum is
scheduled for April 11 in the cafetorium at the high school for any
community members with questions and comments. People can also get
information on the four-day week on the district’s Web site,
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