Merkel ISD Will Be Taking Mondays Off This School Year


MERKEL – Another rural Big Country school district announced Wednesday that it will be shifting to a four day school week.

Merkel ISD published a letter on Jul. 27 confirming that not only will they have a four day school week but that the day off will be Monday. Another school in the area is Winters ISD. For more on their story see: LIVE! Daily | Winters ISD Has Moved to a 4 Day School Week. Here's Why.

The following is the letter sent out by Merkel ISD's superintendent Joseph O’Malley:

Throughout the summer, Merkel ISD has been considering moving to a 4-day instructional week for the 2022-2023 school year. A change this late in the summer is an enormous undertaking. Therefore, we can not afford to make any decisions without considering as many factors as possible.

The first step in this process was to gauge the interest of our stakeholders. We did this by sending out a survey to see if a 4-Day instructional week was of interest to our stakeholders. The data inferred from the survey demonstrated that two-thirds of our stakeholders are interested in this option. The remaining one-third of our constituents were either on the fence or opposed to this change. Since there were two-thirds of our stakeholders in favor of a 4-Day Instructional week, we needed to dig a little deeper. The next step in this process was to give our teachers a chance to voice their opinion. To get that data, we sent a survey to all MISD staff members. That survey came back with two-thirds of our staff members in favor of moving to a 4-Day Instructional Week. The other one-third wasn't necessarily opposed to the change, but felt it was too late in the summer to make this shift. They prefered to revisit this idea next spring.

With two-thirds of our constituents interested in this idea, MISD went to work to determine if this is a viable solution. There are so many things to consider. Here are a few considerations that drove conversations for the Admin Team, the District Site-Based Committee, and the MISD School Board.

  • How would this impact the length of the instructional day?

  • What would be the length of the school year?

  • Which day would the students be off?

  • Is there an expectation for the student to come to school on their day off?

  • If students have to go on their day off, will the district provide transportation?

  • Where will our younger kids go on the "off" day if supervision is an issue for working parents?

  • Can the school still provide meals on the non-instructional day?

  • What is expected of staff members on the non-instructional day?

  • Can we still satisfy state requirements for staff and students?

  • Would this allow MISD the opportunity to offer state-required tutorials for those students not meeting testing standards?

  • Would this help us retain and recruit exceptional teachers?

  • Would our students benefit from more downtime in this busy world we are raising them in?

  • Would this help with days missed because of extracurricular activities?

  • Would this help the district with the substitute shortage?

  • How would this impact traditional activities like pep rallies?

MISD considered these questions and many other factors.

Last year all students attended school for 465 minutes. To move to a 4-Day model, MES would need to increase the daily minutes to 500 minutes. Campus hours will be 7:40 am - 4:00 pm. This would satisfy the yearly requirement of 75,600 minutes with 3 days of banked time. The extra time in the daily schedule will allow more time for academic extensions, recess time for free play with their peers, and foster social-emotional health. MMS and MHS will attend school for approximately 535 minutes per day. The secondary campuses have other constraints, one of which is the time needed in each class for funding. By extending each class period to 57 minutes, we can accomplish several objectives. We will satisfy all requirements for funding, and longer periods will provide more time for teaching, practice, assessment, and reteaching. In this model, there should not be a need for a tremendous amount of homework. MMS's daily schedule will be 7:35 am - 4:22 pm, and MHS hours will be 7:35 am - 4:10 pm. This stagger will allow for a smooth transition with buses and general pick-up for parents.

The most significant impact on the school year is that we would have to start on August 15th instead of August 17th. We will still have traditional holidays, spring break, and early releases. The school year will come to an end as usual, with graduation falling on May 26th.

We believe that the best day for the non-instructional day is Monday.

  • Monday will be easier than Friday to schedule health appointments.

  • Gives our students a chance to get in the right mindset to attack longer days Tuesday-Friday.

  • MISD can have pep rallies on Fridays as usual.

  • Friday, people are typically exhausted and ready for some downtime.

  • Monday is an excellent day to plan for the week as staff will be refreshed and motivated.

Having a day each week to re-group will keep teachers fresh and at their best. We want to do the best we can to retain our outstanding teachers and attract like-minded colleagues to MISD, and initiatives like this will help.

For students, Monday will be a day that they can get tutoring, have class meetings, participate in state-required accelerated instruction, prep for extracurricular activities, REST, and get mentally prepared for longer days Tuesday through Friday. If children are required to be here physically for academic purposes, MISD will provide transportation. However, there may be some remote options as well.

We are still working on how meals will be provided for the non-instructional day. However, MISD feels very strongly about taking care of our children. If MISD has to assume the cost of feeding our kiddos, then that is exactly what we will do!

Where will our younger kids go on the "off" day if supervision is an issue for working parents:
MISD is currently in conversations with Alliance Child Care. They typically serve our students after school. We have inquired to see if there is an option for all-day daycare on Mondays. We have not heard back from them yet. Regardless of whether or not the Alliance option comes to fruition, MISD will host Badger Camp.

Badger Camp will be for students who are too young to stay home alone and do not have access to adult or older sibling supervision. We will send out information on how to qualify and the expectations of parents and students very soon. Badger Camp will be an enrichment and activities-based program.

In Conclusion, the philosophy for a schedule like this is quality over quantity. This school year has been one of the most challenging years in education statewide, and we will continue to see the effects for the next few years. We hope to retain and attract excellent teachers, provide the best education for our students, and establish MISD as a district that will do whatever it takes to achieve these goals.

We will continuously monitor the benefits of a 4-Day Instructional week. If the data proves this is ineffective for MISD, we will pursue other solutions to equip our students for employment, higher education, or enlistment after high school.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve your children. If you have questions or concerns you may contact Joseph O’Malley at [email protected] or 928.5813.

It’s a Great Day to be a Merkel Badger, Joseph O’Malley

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