Family time, study time, ‘state of being’ touted as advantages to 4-day school week

Jolie Daharsh, a fifth grader at Camp Verde Elementary School: “For lots of people who do have kids, we need to have time to play.” (Photos by Bill Helm)

Jolie Daharsh, a fifth grader at Camp Verde Elementary School: “For lots of people who do have kids, we need to have time to play.” (Photos by Bill Helm)

CAMP VERDE – The common theme from Tuesday’s public forum was “four-four-four,” meaning sticking with the four-day schedule and not return to a five-day school week, nor switch to a year-round schedule.

As a child, Camp Verde resident Jennifer McDonald attended year-round school for two years. And she “hated it.”

McDonald, though she prefers that the district stays with its four-day schedule, said she is “not opposed” to the five-day schedule.

“The only thing is family time,” McDonald said. “I’d say it was a clear 98-percent for the four-day week.”

One of the majority was Jolie Daharsh, a fifth grader at Camp Verde Elementary School.

“For lots of people who do have kids,” Daharsh said, “we need to have time to play.”

To Angel Brady, the shorter week is “more beneficial than we think.”

The 16-year-old sophomore at Camp Verde High School said athletics, discussions with her peer group at school, as well as divorced parents as mitigating factors for preferring the four-day week.

“I take school very seriously, and take advanced classes and plan on going into the medical field,” Brady said. “I use Fridays to study as well as get caught up on anything that I need to. I think that going five days or even year-round would impact our community tremendously in ways we wouldn’t imagine.”

Brady also said that her “overall health and state of being has improved tremendously since being on the four-day school schedule.”

Another student at Camp Verde High School, Vanessa Gonzalez said that she and her fellow students “need” the four-day school week.

“Taking away our four-day school week will be taking away our family time, our time that we have been given to schedule doctor’s appointments, any other appointments we need to make,” Gonzalez said. “A peer in specific pointed out to me, they use the Friday we have off to work, [and] taking that away would take a little extra money they are making away, money that is helping support their family.”

Seeking a simpler response, another student said the current schedule to him means “four days to stress out, three days to chill out.”

Sheri Gardner, who is both parent of a CVUSD child and a paraprofessional in the district’s special education department, said that if the school district “were to nurture the four-day [week], with time we would see improvement.”

As she works with students with “severe medical” concerns, Gardner said that “consistency is very important with working with them. It is very hard on them to have a lot of change in their day.”

“We are already very thin in the Para[professional] department,” Gardner said. “The five day – because we are only aloud to have so many hours – would only thin us even further.”

Not everyone said yes to four-day school week

Though speaking in favor of the four-day week, one parent admitted that teachers “cram a lot” into the short week.

For children up as early as 6 a.m. and not starting their homework until the evening, the week may feel anything but short.

“I’m for the five-day week,” said Janet Jones, formerly a teacher. “By Sunday, my kids have forgotten that they have homework. Maybe four days is easier. But at what cost?”

The cost, according to Camp Verdean Andrea Freeman, is different from one family to the next. For some, the four-day week means extra time for parents to spend with their children. For families where both parents work – sometimes more than one job each – four days means finding a sitter for Fridays, or not working on Friday, and not earning much-needed resources to help nourish and shelter the family.

A four-day week, Freeman said, is of little benefit to many families. The Freemans have two children in CVUSD schools, one in the first grade and the other in the third grade. For her family, the four-day week “makes each day longer.”

“It’s harder on the kids. The day starts earlier, they’re tired and they have less time to do homework,” Freeman said. “For the younger kids, I think it’s a big strain on them. You could use the ‘anxiety’ argument with either schedule. For a lot of families, four-day is not the best answer.”

So, what is the best answer?

“I don’t think there’s a simple solution,” Freeman said. “I’m sure the board has a difficult decision to make.”

School times, CVUSD

Camp Verde

Elementary School

First bell- 7:50 a.m.

Kindergarten

dismisses

at 2:35 p.m.

First and second grades dismiss at 2:40 p.m.

Third, fourth, and fifth grades dismiss

at 2:45 p.m.

Camp Verde

Middle School

Start time

at 7:35 a.m.

All grades dismiss

at 3:45 p.m.

Camp Verde

High School

Start time

at 7:45 a.m.

All grades dismissed at 3:20 p.m.

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