Four-day school week approved in Tucumcari

By William Thompson: Freedom Newspapers

The Tucumcari schools board of education voted 4-1 Tuesday to approve a four-day school week. Beginning Aug. 22, students will attend classes four days a week.

Middle school and high school students will attend classes from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Elementary school students will attend school from 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Marty Garcia was the lone board member against the four-day week measure.

“We haven’t really told teachers about the possibility of their salaries being cut,” Garcia said. “I wonder how many teachers would have approved of a move to a four-day week if they were told that.”

School Superintendent William Reents said Garcia’s contention that teacher salaries could be reduced is off the mark.

“I’m pretty sure teacher salaries will not be reduced,” Reents said. “Teachers will still work the normal amount of hours but not all those hours will be spent with students. There will be many in-service days for teachers on Fridays.”

Garcia said he was “severely disappointed” that the board felt it had to take such a “drastic measure” as a move to a four-day week.

“We don’t know what these kids are going to do on Fridays,” he said.

Board president Rex Kirksey said it wasn’t the school district’s responsibility to take care of children on Fridays but he urged Reents to come up with ideas for remedial education or other activities for students on Fridays.

Kirksey said the move to a four-day week will improve the school district’s ability to recruit and retain teachers.

Reents, who does not vote on board decisions, said his main concern with the four-day week was that some teachers already find it hard to utilize the class time they have.

“We will have to retrain some teachers,” he said.

Reents voiced his recommendation for a move to a four-day week.

Previous public survey results and discussions at a recent public forum indicated support for a four-day week.