Staff shortages lead Independence School District toward changes
The school district will explore possibilities of four-day instruction weeks for either the 2023-24 school year.
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (KCTV) - During a pre-school year August board meeting review, Independence School District superintendent Dale Herl cited staff shortages as the reason for multiple policy changes and reviews.
In a YouTube recap of the ISD’s Aug. 9 board of education meeting, Herl said a shortage of bus drivers led the district to increase the minimum distance required for students to be eligible to ride the bus. Herl also said the district would explore the possibilities of four-day instruction weeks for either the 2023-24 school year or other years in the future.
“That (movement) is something that was very tough for us to decide to do,” Herl said. “Unfortunately, the ISD -- like many school districts or a majority of school districts throughout the country -- we are experiencing a shortage of bus drivers.”
Herl implored members of the community to reach out with anyone who might be interested in driving a bus. In the meantime, ISD suggests families coordinate carpools or map out a walking path for their students.
Missouri state regulations maintain school districts must provide transportation for students who live at least 3.5 miles from their school. Independence School District’s change will increase the required distance from one mile to 1.5 miles for middle and high school students.
“This is something that we’re hoping will be temporary,” Herl said, noting the policy could be revisited as early as the end of the fall semester but most likely no earlier than the end of the school year.
The possibility of a four-day instruction period was met with a tweet of disapproval by Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas.
“As a kid who would have been unsupervised watching ‘The Price is Right’ and then stories during the extra day off,” Lucas tweeted, “I continue to question the educational value of this move that’s been described as one for cost-cutting and unproven teacher recruitment. I hope ISD says no.”
As Lucas mentioned, hiring teachers in a competitive market was the reason Herl cited for exploring the alternate instruction week plan.
“Like so many places, it is very competitive to try to get teachers or bus drivers, secretarial or custodial services, and we want to be proactive in this,” Herl said. “This is not a money-saving tactic that we’re trying to use by going to a four-day instructional period. This is something to try to attract and retain the very best employees. We will spend a significant amount of time looking at the different pieces to a four-day instructional week. Obviously, it is something that is very complicated and impacts so many people.”
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