4-Day School Week Thrives in 2 Rural Southern Nevada Towns | Nevada News

By HILLARY DAVIS, Las Vegas Sun.

GOODSPRINGS, Nev. (AP) – Goodsprings Elementary School Principal Tati Hadavi watches as one of his teachers reached across a table to gently brush the long hair out of a student’s eyes as she read.

With two teachers for all five pupils in Goodsprings, a desert village about 45 minutes south of Las Vegas, the teachers are like aunties who also give daily individualized instruction.

“Look at that. It’s beautiful, ”Hadavi told the Las Vegas Sun. “Their scores, their growth show that.”

The school, along with an elementary, middle and high school in neighboring Sandy Valley, are the only schools in mostly urban Clark County School District to meet just four days a week.

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The schools, which are run by a single administrative team, just received their fifth consecutive approval from the district school board to continue their alternative Monday-Thursday schedule.

When administrators seek board members’ approval every two years, they tout measurable benefits: attendance beyond district averages, classroom time far beyond state standards and comparable to a typical urban school, academic growth, and few disciplinary issues.

“Sandy Valley Schools and Goodsprings Elementary School are very unique communities in a rural area of ​​Southern Nevada,” the proposal for the late March trustees meeting read.

The three Sandy Valley schools are located in the same complex, with each school having its own building.

In 2019-20, the last year mostly untouched by the pandemic, attendance ranged from 94% to 96%, up to 2 percentage points above CCSD overall. The year prior, it was between 91% and 94%.

Students attending Sandy Valley and Goodsprings school are in class for 423 minutes a day, or 7 hours and 3 minutes, excluding lunch breaks.

The in-class times are equivalent to the roughly five-and-a-half hour days that other elementary schools are typically in class in CCSD during a conventional week.

Nevada requires a minimum of four hours daily for children in kindergarten through second grades, five hours for pupils in third through sixth, and five and a half hours for grades 7-12

The Sandy Valley middle school has four stars out of five under the state department of education’s Nevada school performance framework. The elementary and high schools earned three stars. In 2017-18, the elementary school only had one star. (Goodsprings is too small for a star rating).

Last year, Sandy Valley High graduated 100% of its seniors.

And, notably, a survey of students, staff and parents in both communities returned 98.9% in support of the four-day week. On Fridays, student-athletes can travel to far-flung away games, older students can work, and staff can tend to personal matters.

Some school district officials were skeptical about the four-day week when board members approved it as a pilot program in 2012. It has been easily renewed ever since.

Hadavi came to the rurals two and a half years ago after being an administrator at a middle and high school in east Las Vegas. In his time out in the country, Sandy Valley has never had a fight. The kids are different here – “sweet,” he said.

The four schools have 271 children, 32 teachers and 20 support staff between them, all but a handful at the Sandy Valley complex. A few staffers, like Hadavi, split their time.

In an exceptionally diverse district – the fifth-largest in the US, with more than 300,000 students – Goodsprings Elementary stands out.

The building, which started its life as a one-room schoolhouse, is 109 years old and on the National Register of Historic Places.

It has been retrofitted to modern standards – it now has two classrooms, two bathrooms, a tiny library and tinier kitchen, and office and storage space.

The outer walls and gabled bell tower strike the quintessential turn-of-the-century schoolhouse silhouette, though.

The antique mechanical bell is still operational, nudged via a long, handled rope that dangles through the modern drop ceiling, and a student is tasked with ringing it to start the day.

Then the group files outside, where another student helps raise Nevada and US flags up the pole, and the group pledges allegiance a few steps from the hopscotch squares and tetherballs.

This year there are five students. Last year, there were 10.

Goodsprings is one of four schools in the more-than 350 across CCSD that remained fully in-person when others were forced into distance learning during the coronavirus lockdown. It never had an outbreak.

In Sandy Valley, about 15 minutes away, 10th-degree Annet Arce said she had a peaceful life. On Fridays, she is at home on her family’s 2 acres with their cows and goats.

Ninth-grader Lionel Corona was born in Las Vegas and attended Von Tobel Middle School in northeast Las Vegas before attending Sandy Valley. He said he received more attention in Sandy Valley because the classes were smaller.

His day is longer, “but I barely notice.”

Kristin Wolf is an interventionist who works mostly with Sandy Valley elementary students who need extra help with math. She was previously a math teacher in a large middle school, where students only had 50-minute periods to absorb the material.

At Sandy Valley, there are more minutes for everything, including math.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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