Avoyelles Parish students will have four-day weeks next school year

Published: Mar. 13, 2019 at 1:35 AM CDT
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Avoyelles Parish students won't have to wake up early five days a week next year. Tuesday night the Avoyelles Parish School Board voted 7-2 in favor of a four-day school week.

After the vote educators in the audience applauded. But, the decision didn't come easy.

Starting off, the board heard from Caldwell Parish School leaders, a district that has had rising performance scores after 11 years with a four-day week.

Still, a few board members were not convinced.

"We are moving a lot more kids around, so I think the board, in my opinion, needs to hold off making any big decisions on this now until we iron out some of these details," said board member Chris LaCour.

With Red River Charter Academy opening up, members tossed around pros like savings. Board member Van Kojis has said RRCA will take around $1.2 million in student funding from the district. This loss in funding could result in the closure of schools.

But, the biggest draw to the decision was teacher recruitment.

"I had a teacher from Pineville High School call me today and say if your four-day work week passes, give me a call," said Avoyelles High School Principal Michael Rachal.

Principals in the parish are eager for certified teachers.

"It would be wonderful if I had someone to walk in that was a certified teacher," said Marksville High School Principal Liza Jacobs. "Already knew how to do classroom management, already knew how to build relationships with kids."

The district surveyed all teachers last month and discovered more than half were in favor of the idea. But, it's parents who need more details.

"I have been told by board members that there is a lot of concern by parents and look, we understand," said Superintendent Blaine Dauzat.

Before becoming the Avoyelles Superintendent, Dauzat worked for Caldwell Parish and saw the success of a four-day week firsthand.

"We understand that your kid is going to get home an hour later than he is now," Dauzat said. "Maybe we can look at some bus routes like the visitors at Caldwell Parish told us and trim that a little."

Moving forward the board hopes to see classrooms shine.

"We have to think outside of the box when it comes to stuff like this," said board member Rickey Adams. "I think this will do it and we will make sure it works. We are going to stay on top of it. They can start planning now to make sure it is good to go when the school year starts."

Before the meeting adjourned, the board voted to extend Superintendent Dauzat's contract early.

Dauzat talked to members about extending his contract until December 2022.

Seven out of the nine board members are new and began their terms in January. Dauzat still has a year and a half left in his contact, ending in December 2020, but he wanted his to match theirs. He said he wanted to see through all the new changes to his district and continue the growth.

A few board members were apprehensive because they hadn't worked alongside Dauzat for long. But, after hearing from many supportive teachers and principals in the audience they voted 5-4 to extend the contract.

"The board knows they are stuck with me and I know I am stuck with them, you know four years almost," Dauzat said. "We are all in this together. I believe event those that voted against it had good intentions. I told them and was very honest with them that I understood the reasons why they objected. But, now that this is behind us, I think we can all move forward. Keep this super positive vibe we've got going in our district right now."

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