The Wright City, MO, R-II school district board of education is considering starting school later on Mondays and at normal times on Wednesday.
The Wright City R-II Board of Education will consider a proposal to move the district’s early out on Wednesday to a late start on Mondays starting in the 2024-2025 school year.
Wright City R-II Assistant Superintendent Doug Smith presented a proposal earlier this month for the district to move to a 75 minute late start on Mondays. Under the plan, the district schools would run on a normal schedule Tuesdays through Fridays.
They would run transportation 75 minutes later on Mondays. The plan also calls for no cost childcare to be offered for students in kindergarten through fifth grade at the normal start time.
The district currently ends the school day 60 minutes early on Wednesdays. This time is used for Impact team meetings, professional collaboration and professional development as needed.
Smith cited multiple issues the district is facing with the current set up, including lack of time available for elementary school teachers.
“One of the big ones is that all of our elementary teachers right now are unable to get 60 minutes because of all of their duties after school of getting kids to the bus, taking kids to the bus, being back in the building, walking kids around,” Smith said.
“And so in order to really have strong Impact team meetings, they are doing that during their plan time one day a week.”
Another concern is secondary students who have activities later in the day with no place to be between the end of the school day and their practice.
“I guarantee you that the librarian over at the Scenic Regional Library would tell you she would appreciate not having this,” Smith said. “We’ve got a close McDonald’s. We’ve had a lot of issues to be frank on the West Elementary Playground with some of our students being there.”
Smith said the benefits of the change would include equity for teacher planning. Under the plan, elementary teachers would receive ample time for collaboration and Impact team work. It would also eliminate the challenges of secondary students in activities and provide more productive and useful meetings to begin the week.
Smith believes the childcare option addresses one of the biggest concerns conveyed through the community survey. He noted parents would need to adapt to the schedule, just like they did when the district moved to the early out schedule on Wednesdays.
Board of Education Vice President Erin Williams supported the late start on Mondays as opposed to the early out on Wednesday. She said her only suggestion was to increase the daycare before school by one hour.
“If I have to be at work at eight, I cannot drop my kid off at eight and still be there at eight,” Williams said. “So maybe if we increase that … an additional hour so they could open at seven or something to allow parents to be able to drop their child off earlier and still get to work on time. That would be my only concern with eight o’clock is a hard time to drop off the kids if you don’t have bus transportation.”
Wright City R-II Superintendent Dr. Chris Berger confirmed the cost under the proposed 75 minutes for childcare for students in kindergarten through fifth grade would cost the district under $5,000 per year.
Board member Heidi Box Halleman said the change would be better for the teachers. She thinks parents would have frustrations with a late start on Monday, just like there are frustrations with the early out on Wednesdays.
“It’s a toss up,” Box Halleman said. “But if it is that important to our kids’ education and is driving scores, let’s figure it out. I really have no comments or questions.”
The board also discussed the potential of expanding the childcare service beyond grades kindergarten through fifth grade.
Smith said the district’s decision on the structure of which grades will be at the elementary and middle schools in the future, which was discussed during the district’s presentation of the master plan proposal, may impact the need to look at whether to expand childcare services.
The board did not take any action at this month’s meeting on the proposal. We will have a full story in next week’s issue on the district’s master plan proposal.