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Norfork, Ark. School Board approves 4-day school week, salary freezes to ease financial hardships

(KY3)
Published: Oct. 18, 2019 at 3:50 PM CDT
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Kids may celebrate a shorter week, but it’s a serious situation for a small rural school district south of Mountain Home, Arkansas. Norfork will be the second in the state to move to a four day school week beginning next school year.

On Wednesday night, the Norfork School Board voted unanimously to move the district to a four day school week beginning next year. The board also put a salary freeze on any district employees with 15 years or more experience.

It’s called an early intervention.

"We have to make some bold moves to get back right," Norfork Superintendent Chip Layne told KY3.

Trying to help Norfork schools stop a financial bleed that’s been going on for years.

The state of Arkansas says if the district doesn’t make those “bold moves," it soon won’t be able to pay bills or salaries.

"We've been deficit spending for four years minimum. Our balance has declined over those four years," Layne said.

A switch to a four day week would save the district on electricity, travel, food and substitute costs.

"I think the district could save $70,000 to $100,000," Layne exclaimed.

The salary freeze affects Layne, his two principals and 23 teachers.

Teachers have until Tuesday to vote whether they would like Mondays or Fridays off.

5th grade teacher Brandy Sallee is in favor of Mondays off.

"I’m hoping that it will give our kids extra time to rest, improve behavior, give parents time to spend with their kids and hopefully increase our academic time throughout the day, Sallee explained. It will add to our literacy blocks, our math blocks and hopefully allow more time working one-on-one with our students that need that extra help."

In her mind, parent Lyndsay Simpson believes the district is taking the necessary steps in order to keep local control of the district.

"I think it could really help with attendance. I think that a lot of schools will follow suit on it, when they see how it works for our school," Simpson explained.

"Our goal is to get through it and to get back to a real healthy financial state, where we can go back to doing some of those things pay wise and everything," Layne stated.