SWEET HOME — Sweet Home will join Central Linn, Santiam Canyon and Harrisburg school districts in changing to a four-day school week.
Board members on Monday voted 5-3, initially without comment or discussion, to make the switch, which will take place this fall. Dale Keene, Mike Reynolds, Jenny Daniels and Mike Adams joined Chairman Jason Redick in voting yes, while Chanz Keeney, Kevin Burger and David VanDerlip voted no.
Billie Weber was not present but had made her opposition known in previous meetings.
Adams, currently in Norfolk, Va., on his way to Afghanistan, gave his yes vote via a video connection.
Keeney, who said the vote went too fast to make a comment, spoke during board discussion a few moments later, saying he was disappointed in the outcome.
“Our surveys we sent out, both surveys, the public said no. It was very clear,” he said. “I haven’t heard any regular folks out there say they want the four-day school week. We, the board, just voted through a four-day school week. I don’t think that’s how a board should be run.”
Several people in an audience of about 40 people applauded, and Keeney excused himself from the rest of the meeting and left the building.
The district plans to hold classes Monday through Thursday and use Fridays as needed for staff training, intervention, grading and other needs. Classes will be longer on other days to keep overall teaching hours the same.
The next step is to work out a calendar with licensed and classified staff and bargain changes in employment status as necessary, Superintendent Don Schrader said.
Classified employees, who expect to lose numerous work hours with the change, have been vehemently opposed. However, the union’s vote isn’t required to set the schedule, Schrader said.
Board members have had extensive discussions about the proposed schedule change in the past few months. Schrader, who came from a four-day district last year, supported the change in Sweet Home as a way to save money while creating time for planning and collaboration.
Schrader estimates switching to a four-day week will save a minimum $340,000 of the estimated $1 million the district will be short next budget year.
But parents and some employees have protested, saying school days will be too long and child care and unsupervised teens on the off days will be a problem.
The school district’s web site, www.sweet home.k12.or.us, has a list of frequently asked questions meant to help answer parent concerns.