Vermillion School Board studying four-day week

Vermillion School Board studying four-day week by David Lias The Vermillion School Board is studying the idea of a four-day school week as one way to cut expenses.

The district is outspending revenue by about $400,000 annually, board chairman Tom Craig said Monday night.

The change would not be made in time for the 2002-03 school term, Craig said.

"We have started looking into the possibility," he said. "Custer has been doing it for seven years. The biggest savings seem to be in transportation."

Vermillion staff and board members met recently with Custer High School Principal Larry Luitjens to hear the good and bad about the switch at Custer.

Vermillion Superintendent Bob Mayer said he has started collecting information on transportation and other cost savings under the change.

Mayer said the board will meet with the public to solicit comments on a four-day week and to explain the district's financial condition.

"This (four-day week) is a major change, but ? we may have no other choices," Mayer said.

Mayer said Custer saved $70,000 its first year of operating on a four-day schedule.

"There was a lesser amount saved on other years, and my thoughts on it are that we would not be able to do this next year if we were inclined to," he said. "There's a certain number of statistics that we will have to have on transportation, and we eventually get it. Your major savings is in transportation."

Mayer told the school board of other factors, besides research and the gathering information, that will make the process time consuming.

"This will take a significant campaign with the public," he said. "We couldn't just do this without some sort of consultation or task force with the public to get their opinions on this because we're talking about a major change in people's lifestyles."

"It's important that the public knows that we have at least starting looking at that possibility (of a four day week)," Craig said, "and we have gotten some information from Custer. They've been doing it for seven years now."

Craig said Larry Luitjens, the principal of Custer High School, shared a presentation with the Vermillion School Board recently on how the Custer district went about implementing the schedule change.

"He told us how the system was implemented, how much money they saved, and problems they encountered," Craig said. "After listening to him, it was pretty good because they had a very positive response from their community on using that program. I think it's important to know that we're going to make cuts, because it has to happen because we're spending more money than we're taking in in revenue, and this is simply one of the things we're looking at down the road to save money."

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