Superintendent’s letter concerning 4-day school weeks: ‘This decision was not taken lightly’

Published 3:43 pm Monday, March 18, 2024

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VIDALIA, La. — Beginning after Labor Day, students in Concordia Parish public schools will stop attending school on Monday and instead begin a four-day school week schedule that starts the weeks on Tuesday and ends them on Friday.

That is subject to Louisiana legislature upholding its existing education requirements and not enacting a ban on a four-day week schedule, which was introduced in a Senate Bill last week.

School Board Superintendent Toyua Bachus wants community stakeholders to know the decision of the school district to transition to a four-day week schedule was “not taken lightly.”

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A series of Town Hall events stationed in the different communities where the school district’s schools are located sought to gather public opinion and share clarity on the topic of a four-day school week.

However, in a letter she shared on social media on Monday morning, Bachus said she realizes that not all community stakeholders could attend these meetings and tried to elaborate on the rationale behind the schedule.

In her letter, Bachus lists three main reasons supporting a four-day school week, the first being teacher recruitment and retention.

“There is a significant shortage of teachers nationwide, and Concordia Parish is not immune to this challenge,” Bachus said. “In order to remain competitive and attract talented educators to our district, we must explore innovative solutions. Transitioning to a four-day school week allows us to adopt a more appealing schedule for potential recruits.”

The national teacher shortage is one reason why many other schools nationally and a few surrounding Concordia Parish have already gone to a four-day week.

Other reasons for the schedule, Bachus said, are to provide differentiated instruction to students and improve professional development and collaboration for teachers.

“One of our primary goals as educators is to provide the best possible learning experience for all students. By utilizing the extra day in our school week, we can offer enriching activities such as music, theater, sports, and vocational programs for students who excel academically while also providing additional tutoring and support for those who may need it,” she said.

“Our district has made tremendous progress in recent years, and this is in large part due to the dedication and collaboration of our teachers. By reducing the number of instructional days and allocating one day specifically for professional development and collaboration, we can further enhance the quality of education we provide to our students.”

The four-day schedule voted on and approved by the school board on Thursday raises concerns, particularly from working parents who are concerned about childcare.

“I want to assure you that we have heard your concerns and are committed to addressing them in a collaborative manner,” Bachus said. “Your support and input are invaluable as we strive to navigate these changes together and continue moving our district forward. As your Superintendent, I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve this community, and I am fully committed to ensuring the success and well-being of every student in Concordia Parish. Please know that my door is always open, and I welcome any feedback or questions you may have. Thank you for your continued support and trust in our shared mission of providing excellence in education.”