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Livingstone Range investigates changes to school week

Livingstone Range School Board will investigate two options regarding the school week.

Trustees voted Feb. 16 to investigate returning to a full day of instruction on Fridays, ending early dismissal.

Trustees also voted at the same meeting to investigate a four-day school week that runs from Monday to Thursday.

Trustee Brad Toone introduced both motions at the school board’s Feb. 16 meeting at the G.R. Davis Administration Building in Fort Macleod.

“Administration can look at the pros and cons and bring it back,” Toone said.

Toone said the idea of investigating changes to the school week came out of input into the 2021-’22 and 2022-’23 calendars that were also approved Feb. 16.

Trustees first discussed the idea of returning to full instructional days on Friday, rather then ending the day shortly after 1 p.m.

Toone proposed asking parents and students for their opinion on returning to full instructional days on Friday.

School board chair Lori Hodges said while it is fair to ask the question, students and parents need background in order to make an informed decision.

“I think there is a lot of education that has to go along with this survey in order for them to make an educated decision,” Hodges said.

Toone explained that common themes developed when parents were asked about the school calendars.

Those themes included more opportunities for extended family time during the school year and student mental health.

Toone said changing the school week could allow the division to respond to those themes.

Trustees saw the value in investigating the options but first wanted to hear from division staff, including administration and principals.

“I think we should look at it,” trustee Jim Burdett said, adding trustees should first explore the options before presenting them to parents and students.

Trustee Greg Long agreed, adding administration could check with school divisions that already have a four-day week.

“I like the idea of exploring this,” Long said.

School board vice-chair Lacey Poytress said a four-day week would be useful for creating long weekends, aiding student mental health with a break, and allowing time for professional development for staff.

There would also be cost savings if school buses did not run one day a week.

“It’s important that we take a look at the whole picture,” Poytress said.

Trustee Greg Long was adamant that finances could not drive any decisions on the school week.

“I would put education of students and support of parents above finances,” Long said.

Trustee John McKee said the board would have to establish a clear majority for support from parents for changes to the school week, such as 75 per cent in favour.

Toone said the decision should be made prior to the election in October, rather than leaving it to a new board with less experience.

“We have an amazing board with a lot of experience,” Toone said. “We have to leverage that.”

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