By Jessica R. Wheeler
An investigative committee for the Sherman County School District four-day week proposal has released a new survey for community members.
The responses are due by Jan. 4, after which the committee will present the results of the survey to the school board Jan. 9.
Committee spokesperson Jessie Fields said the group is hoping to get as many responses from the community as possible.
“Every voice matters, and we want to do what is best for students, parents, staff and community members,” a statement from the committee said. “Please take your time and answer these questions thoroughly and according to your family’s situation.”
Fields said the group has put together a report compiling the information gathered during the committee’s research phase. A link to these documents is provided on the first page of the survey, for parents and community members to review before submitting their responses. The report includes information on graduation rates and test scores across the region, potential class schedules and calendar options, and total instructional hours, both for the proposed calendar and as compared to the current 4.5 day week.
The committee was appointed by the school board to further research the proposal and is made up of about eight staff or community members, many of whom are also parents.
Some community members have questioned whether local child care providers would be able to accommodate the influx of new clients in the event of no-school Fridays.
Little Wheats Daycare in Moro currently serves five children after school on Fridays and said they would continue to have a spot for the full Friday if needed. There is room for two additional children Fridays, director Natasha Sandquist said.
“Little Wheats Daycare strives to provide a safe, educational and fun environment for the children in our community,” a statement from Little Wheats said. “Additionally, Little Wheats offers meals, arts and crafts, STEM activities, a library of books and outside play to children in care on Fridays.”
A statement from ABC Huskies Daycare in Wasco said there are 10 children currently enrolled in after-school care, with three to six of those regularly attending on half-day Fridays. Those children would continue to be offered a spot full-day, and two additional spots are open as well, they said. ABC Huskies also provides meals and snacks throughout the day, and assistance with homework is offered.
“The children have access to a variety of activities including toys, books, arts and crafts, STEM options and outside play time,” the statement said. “Our child care director is currently taking STEM classes to enhance the STEM options offered, which will be particularly helpful for the school-aged children.”
Additionally, ABC Huskies has partnered with the Sherman Kids Zone to allow for field trips in an effort to provide variety and special fun and learning activities, they said.
Sherman County’s Prevention Coordinator Deanna Christiansen said the Prevention Team has discussed organizing some learning opportunities if the school transitions to a four-day week.
“I think the community can come together to offer support and enrichment for the youth in a creative and meaningful way,” Christiansen said. “With Extension, 4-H, daycare, education and athletic foundations, Prevention, and the collaborations that have already been taking place, Sherman can make this a positive experience to support.” “It’s a change in a new direction but also has the potential to return to a deeper sense of community,” she added.