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Stephen J. Lee, Published May 13 2009

Warroad schools going to four-day week

WARROAD, Minn. – The Warroad School Board voted this week to go to a four-day school week starting next fall as part of cost-cutting efforts.

The board voted 4-2 Monday night for the change, said Chairman Phil Heppner.

Faced with red ink in the coming year, the board set a goal of cutting $900,000 from the budget, Heppner said. Going to a four-day week will save about $140,000 in busing expenses and some utility costs, the board figures.

About 15 employee positions have also been cut, including a handful of teaching positions.

High School Principal Bill Kirkeby said he had the least seniority among the district’s administrators, so he’s returning to being band director, a teaching slot he held for 20 years.

Student numbers, which have dropped for several years, appear to be stabilizing, Kirkeby said.

The district used the MACCRAY school district of Maynard, Clara City and Raymond in central Minnesota as a mode for how a four-day week would go, Heppner said.

The public school in Blackduck has also decided to go to a four-day week next fall, Heppner said.

Warroad’s school day, Monday-Thursday, will be from 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., about an hour longer than the current schedule of five days each running 8:19 a.m. to 3 p.m. Each school period will be lengthened from about 50 minutes to 60 minutes.

Students would be in school 144 of the longer days instead of 170 of the shorter days. Teachers would be expected to do about 11 more days of staff development and other conference work.

Some parents have voiced concern about what their children will do Fridays, especially if both parents work during the day, Heppner said.

One option being discussed is running a kind of day care at the school Fridays, he said.

“A lot of details aren’t worked out yet,” Heppner said. “We have had fairly positive feedback from the community and from the staff,” he said.