Lyon County schools may go to 4-day weeks
SILVER SPRINGS – Passing up proposals to cut teacher salaries or close schools, Lyon County School Board trustees decided Tuesday to instead pursue switching to a four-day school week.
“Research has already shown us that the longer a child is in school, the better the retention is,” said trustee James Huckaby in arguing for the shortened week, which would mean longer days. “That’s a big plus from my standpoint.”
The decision came at the end of a nearly four-hour meeting at Silver Stage High School with about 300 people in attendance.
The board presented an array of different scenarios, from eliminating programs to reducing teacher pay by up to 6 percent.
After hearing appeals from dozens of parents, teachers and community members, trustees settled on a proposed budget that would cut about $3.5 million.
They did not consider an earlier recommendation to close Riverview Elementary School in Dayton or Silver State Middle School in Silver Springs. They also dismissed the option of reducing salaries.
The final version of the tentative budget eliminates facilitators in a coaching program that helps students who are falling behind. The program will continue, but the duties will be absorbed by existing staff. The cost savings is estimated at about $728,000.
Textbook adoption will be postponed, saving $350,000. Pay for substitutes will be reduced to $85 per day from $100 per day, a savings of $131,000.
A fund set up years ago when the district was self-insured will be used to pay premiums, cutting $450,00 from the budget.
The most extreme measure was reducing the school week to four days.
District officials had first estimated the savings would be about $1.5 million, but trustees changed that to $750,000 in hopes of avoiding large reductions in bus drivers, cafeteria workers and custodians.
Betty Hennig, president of the Lyon County Classified School Association, said she trusts the board and told her members to do the same.
“I told them with all the honesty in my heart that all of you on the board have in mind the very best interest of every employee and every child who attends Lyon County Schools,” she said. “The classified union is going to stand behind you, and we’re going to work together.”
Several parents questioned the specifics of the transition. How many hours would each day be? How would students participate in after-school and extracurricular activities? What would working parents do with their children on Fridays?
Trustees placed that discussion on its April 16 agenda in Smith Valley to nail down the specifics.
Kathleen Aboussleman complimented the board on its work and the decision to move to a four-day week.
“I feel like you all are good stewards of our taxpayer money,” she said.
She told her daughter benefits from additional hours of tutoring classes after school.
“When her school day got extended, her work started flourishing,” she said.
Others urged the board to continue to look into expenditures to find additional areas to cut.
Paul Peterson asked to see a budget from the district office and questioned physicals for executive positions.
“Why are we paying for their physicals?” he asked. “Why isn’t it coming out of their personal insurance?”
Karyn Bader called on Superintendent Caroline McIntosh to drive her own vehicle to work in Yerington rather than driving a government car from Dayton.
“By all means, use a county vehicle to go to the outlying schools,” she said. “As far as transportation to and from work, I believe it is an unnecessary expense.”
The board encouraged those in attendance to contact their representatives in the Legislature to convey the importance of funding education.
“I’m not happy with the choices we have,” said trustee Theo McCormick. “We really hope that the governor and Legislature can see their way clear to straightening out the budget without tearing down our educational system.”