Four day school week fixes rural Washington school’s staffing woes

Four day school week fixes rural...
Four day school week fixes rural Washington school’s staffing woes

Administration in Selkirk School District point to the fact that it took six months to fill a fourth grade teaching position and almost two years to fill a special education position when they decided something had to be done to recruit more teachers to the area. Retirement of existing staff and teachers leaving the area has led to shortages in the district during the same time as the state is going through a short supply of new teachers.

The decision was made to increase each school day by around 45 minutes, and cut the total school week down to four days in an effort to catch job seekers attention.

“We wanted to do something different to attract teachers,” said Selkirk High and Middle School Principal Greg Goodnight.

He says the decision to shorten the school week has thus far gone over extremely well with parents, students and staff. Its also fixed the school’s staffing problems, for now.

“We were able to find an English teacher from Nebraska, a science teacher from Oregon and a music teacher from Washington, that was our only Washington hire,” he said.

Teachers at the school who were originally on the fence about the decision to switch to a four day school week on a trial basis, have gotten on board.

“I think it makes is so you can really hit everything hard on those four days,” said Clarinda Vandyke, who has taught at the school for 22 years. “I think the net value of what we get is greater then the five days.”

She says for new teaching grads looking for their first job, they should definitely consider a rural district like Selkirk.

“We get a lot of support and a lot of freedom,” she said, “you will also be well respected in the school and the community,” she said.

She says the four day work week also opens up opportunities for her to spend more time with her family, something a new grad or teacher looking for a change in scenery might enjoy.

The four day week experiment is about a year in, and will face its first big test this May when students in the district will take Washington’s state’s standardized high stakes test. The Selkirk School District has had 100 percent graduation rates over the last several years and Principal Goodnight says if that dips significantly they will not continue having a four day week.