Mineral Wells Area News

“It could happen next school year,” Kuhn said.

“It could happen next school year,” Kuhn said.
May 05
11:12 2022

MWISD Staff Polled on Four-Day School Week, Superintendent to Discuss at Next School Board Meeting

As smaller districts like Graford ISD and Perrin ISD plan to move to a four-day school week next year, Mineral Wells Independent School District is looking in the same direction.

Mineral Wells Area News asked John Kuhn about the idea and it seems the staff overwhelmingly is interested in the idea. Dr. Kuhn has placed the topic on the next school board meeting for discussion. We are publishing the full message from Kuhn below so the community can understand why this conversation is needed.

Dr. John Kuhn’s Response to 4 Day School Week:

The results of a staff survey related to the four-day model—along with information gathered from schools like Gordon and Athens where it has already been implemented and in place—will be shared with the board by the district leadership team. This is an informational item; no decisions will be made.

The results of the staff survey are 87% in favor of making the change versus 7% opposed. The rest were undecided or didn’t have an opinion. There were 466 respondents out of 519 employees

I don’t have a personal preference on the issue, but I do see the writing on the wall. Currently Perrin, Graford, and Gordon are on the four-day schedule for next year, and the feedback from Gordon appears to be almost entirely positive after their first year on it.

What really has my attention is that this spring we have already lost five very good teachers to neighboring schools with four-day weeks. We’ve worked hard since 2016 to raise pay, boost morale, and reduce bureaucracy to help Mineral Wells recruit and retain the very best teaching force around, and I see this as a serious threat to our ability to maintain the kind of staff quality we have gotten accustomed to attracting over the past six years, especially in light of all the people leaving the profession for higher pay and more respect in the private sector. We need to put MWISD in the very best light for teaching candidates (who have
lots of choices about where to work) because we want our classrooms staffed with highly effective individuals.

I’m also cognizant of another risk: if teachers are drawn to a four-day week, there’s a solid chance students will be too. So I see this as an existential threat to both staffing and enrollment—a five-day school week has become a competitive disadvantage, and schools today operate in a highly competitive environment. My job is to put MWISD in a position to be successful.

My gut tells me we can either make the change now, or we can wait until even more of our neighboring schools beat us to the punch and hire away more of our great teachers, and then make the change behind the curve. I’d rather be one of the school districts on the front end attracting teachers and students from five-day districts, rather than being a district that moved too slowly.

I was originally dismissive of the four-day week idea when I first started hearing about it. It felt gimmicky. I thought the schools who tried it would find parents opposed it and would promptly switch back. According to our research, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Concerns about daycare and missed meals aren’t proving to be major issues in the schools that have implemented it. One school district with over 2,000 students provided Friday daycare for the first year of implementation and only had a handful of kids showed up, so they discontinued it. Another district offered meals and few kids came to get them, so they discontinued it after the first year. And those reports are consistent.

So now I see this as something that has legs. My prediction is that a majority of schools will sooner or later move in this direction because if you don’t, you’ll be at a competitive disadvantage in hiring and in enrolling students.

We are looking at it seriously and if the board deems it appropriate it could happen next school year, or the school year after.

Ultimately, I want MWISD to offer the educational program that best lends itself to student success. Some people see five days in a desk as a holy model that should never be touched, because that’s the way we’ve always done it. The reality is that the world has undergone massive changes in recent years, and in my opinion we can’t be flat-footed or we’ll end up like wagon wheel makers in the time of Henry Ford. —John

The MWISD school board will discuss the issue at their next regularly scheduled meeting on Monday May 9.

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