Concordia Parish School Board approves 4-day school week calendar

Published 10:34 pm Thursday, March 14, 2024

VIDALIA, La. — The Concordia Parish School Board on Thursday adopted a school calendar for the 2024-2025 academic year that includes school weeks that begin on Tuesday and end on Friday.

However, a bill introduced this week in the Louisiana Senate may thwart those plans.

The approved calendar starts the academic year on Aug. 1, which is what Superintendent Toyua Bachus presented as an option during a series of Town Hall meetings.

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Students wouldn’t start a four-day school week until after Labor Day and would resume five-day weeks in the month of April before state testing. Then the school year would end for students on May 23, 2025.

Bachus said approximately 300 people attended these Town Hall meetings and received clarity on some misconceptions about the calendar.

With the calendar, “Students do not lose instructional time,” she said.

Teachers are also not required to be present for more than what they are already contracted for, she added. Professional development days are set to take place on the second Monday of each month when students are already not scheduled to be in school. Bachus said this allows teachers the time they need to clean classrooms, call parents, build lesson plans or do anything else they might need additional time for without students.

Click here for a copy of the calendar approved Thursday.

The calendar was voted on by stakeholders in a survey published on the district website.

Officials said 1,433 people responded to the survey, including 677 parents, 336 employees, 343 students, 10 business owners and 67 community members.

Of these, 53.5% supported the calendar option A, which the school board adopted on Thursday. The next highest choice was calendar option C, a traditional school calendar that included five-day school weeks and would start the school year on Aug. 9.

The least favorite option was calendar option B, a four-day week calendar that would’ve started the school year on July 30.

These numbers have also been “cleaned up” so that no single person’s vote is counted more than once, even if they could be included in more than one category, Bachus said. For example, district employees who also have school-age children are counted only as employees and not as employees and parents.

The adoption of calendar A was made by a vote of 8-1 with Fred Butcher casting the lone “nay” vote. The motion to approve the calendar was made by Derrick Carson and seconded by Dorothy Parker.

“I want to say for the record that the reason I’m voting nay is because we need to work something out with our contracted drivers,” Butcher said.

Bachus said that a calendar for the district’s 12-month employees, including central office personnel, could not be approved without a student calendar being approved first. The student calendar would typically be approved before a March 30 deadline.

However, Louisiana SB 66 introduced on Monday by Republican Senator Beth Mizell provides for a mandatory five-day school week for all Louisiana public schools.

The bill states, “The minimum school week shall consist of five consecutive days within a week, except for acknowledged legal holidays. The minimum school year shall consist of one hundred seventy-seven days of instruction.”

Bachus said the district’s current school calendar, which has five-day weeks, would not have passed this requirement because it includes a break for Mardi Gras.

SB 66 leaves the school board’s adopted calendar “in limbo” since it may not be legal if the bill passes and receives the governor’s signature, she said.