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Four-Day Talking Points

The board of education of the North Branch Area Public Schools voted 3-2 in favor of a four-day school week in spring 2009, primarily as a means to save teaching positions. The decision was not without the need to make the district’s case one more time, however.

These are some of the talking points I used that memorable night.

One-time funds:

Using one-time funds is not a solution, but it merely puts off dealing with a problem.

Responsible use of one-time funds is to make them available long-term to help offset classroom cuts as long as possible.

Capital needs are outpacing revenues; one-time resources are better suited to meet those needs.

Delaying our decision:

The longer we wait, the fewer savings we realize, right when we need those savings most.

A year from now we can be here again, trying to figure out what to do; or we can be evaluating our first year in the four-day week and determining if it is viable.

Community:

We heard exactly what every district has heard when it implemented a four-day week. The vast majority of those districts now report a high satisfaction rate.

We heard from many people who support the four-day week.

Staff are taxpaying members of the community, and many are also parents. Is their voice being heard?

The hardcore opposition is a small number of people who have made their feelings known on multiple occasions.

Keep in mind the vast majority of people we serve, who by not coming to meetings or contacting the district communicated their lack of opposition or anxiety.

Like everything we do, this will create hardship for some and opportunities for others. If we base decisions on accommodating everyone, the district will be paralyzed.

Politics:

Our community has said the district needs to find creative savings that don’t affect the classroom.

The four-day week has opened the eyes of many of our families. Not implementing it at this time tells them the problem wasn’t that serious after all.

State outlook:

Cuts could still get much worse; the state is currently facing an almost $1 billion shortfall.

The state is already borrowing money from schools to cover shortfalls.

School district budget:

The recommendation before you represents the most responsible use of on-going resources and one-time solutions available.

You have heard the president of the teachers’ union talk about the potential of the four-day week to slow increases to class size, and the need to slow those increases.

The recommendation has the support of the experts hired by the district, who run our schools and teach our students, those with firsthand knowledge of the impact.

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