by: Jacob Blount, Ozarks First
The Kirbyville School District is going to four days a week for students to retain teachers.
The city population is under 200 residents and Dr. Carless Osbourn, superintendent of Kirbyville Schools, says it’s not easy to find teachers.
“It’s becoming more and more difficult,” said Dr. Osbourn. “Currently we have open teaching and coaching positions available that we’re finding it’s very difficult to find quality applicants for that and the number has decreased considerably.”
Dr. Osbourn says the decision to go to a four-day school week next year could have other positive impacts.
“Currently there are school districts around our area that are four days a week and they’ve experienced good success with that,” said Dr. Osbourn. ” Decreased discipline, increased student attendance.”
However, many parents are concerned about the change. The top two concerns are childcare and possible food insecurity. The district is leaning on the Boys and Girls Club of the Ozarks for support when it comes to childcare.
“They would be able to expand that, if needed, to accommodate our students on Monday,” said Dr. Osbourn.
For students who rely on school lunches, Dr. Osbourn said the district has a backpack program.
“Every student that qualifies receives a backpack that has like Chef Boyardee in it, peanut butter, graham crackers, some nutritional food that doesn’t require much preparation at all,” said Jamie Kephart, an elementary counselor.
Kephart helps with the backpack program and said if they can feed kids through the pandemic they can do anything.
“The first week I was taking them in my car and then we were able to get them on the school buses and get them to kids,” said Kephart. “So we’re going to absolutely ensure that all kids have their nutritional needs met through that three-day weekend.”