Stewart County students head back to school on new four day sche - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Stewart County students head back to school on new four day schedule

STEWART COUNTY, GA (WTVM) -

Longer days and shorter weeks have begun in Stewart County schools.  

After a summer of meetings, surveys, and a protest, Stewart County students are back in class but not for the usual five day school week.

Students returned to school Thursday to begin the new four-day school week.  Administrators changed to the shorter week to save money.

"Last year we had 99 students for middle school; this year, we have about 89. Last year for high school we had 109 and this year we have about 100. We're excited about having our students here on day one with our new calendar," said Viola Fedd, Stewart County Middle School principal.

The new calendar is a four-day school week starting on Tuesdays from eight in the morning until 4:15 in the afternoon.

It was a tough decision Superintendent Floyd Fort said had to be made.  

"More and more each year the state is pushing down additional funding requirements to the local boards of education and we have to deal with it. The four day week is something that's not new; we didn't invent it in Stewart County. It's something that we're actually implementing in order to try and save the public funds," Fort said.

Fort said losing a day will save the county 1-million dollars a year.  However, many parents said it's not about the money.  They are concerned the quality of education will suffer and test scores may decline.

"We do not anticipate our scores slipping at all our teachers have come prepared. They're working and planned all summer long and we do not anticipate any slips," Fort said.

Now that school is out on Mondays, administrators say they have some plans in the works to keep students busy.

"We are looking at having some things on Mondays for our students at least twice a month," said Fedd. "Our teachers are also sending home Monday packages so our kids will have that additional academic pieces, things they can do at home."

If students want to get out of the house on Mondays, Fort says the system is working to give them places to go.

"In addition, one thing that we are really reaching out to do is work with our faith based community and we have several churches that are stepping up and really wanting to work with us and we're going to work with them," Fort said.

"[I am a member of] Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church. As a faith-based church we would be open for recreational sessions with the children," Stewart County family and community specialist Billie Mallory said. "[We plan to] invite speakers in. They would be able to learn and become more aware of issues like teen pregnancy and life skills throughout the day on Mondays."

Administrators said they will continue to offer an after school program that stays open until 6:30pm. 

"Stewart County is a courageous county- and we are one. As one, we can make it work and we're committed to do that," said Fedd.

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